By Mike Cherney
SYDNEY--Australian grocer Woolworths Group Ltd. said its net profit fell about 56% in the 2020 fiscal year, after accounting for one-time items including restructuring costs and making up payment shortfalls to employees.
Net profit was nearly 1.2 billion Australian dollars (US$869 million) in the 12 months to June 28. Profit from continuing operations was also nearly A$1.2 billion, down 22%. Total revenue was 6% higher, to A$63.7 billion.
Woolworths declared a final dividend of 48 Australian cents per share, bringing the full-year payout to 94 Australian cents, a decline of nearly 8%.
The result was also impacted by the closure of the company's hotels business in the last four months of the financial year, which hit earnings in the fiscal second half, Chief Executive Brad Banducci said. Overall, the coronavirus pandemic led to increased sales amid panic buying by customers, but it also resulted in higher costs and lower customer satisfaction as the grocer struggled to restock stores.
Looking ahead, Mr. Banducci said fiscal 2021, which is currently underway, is difficult to predict given the possibility of renewed coronavirus outbreaks such as those in Australia's Victoria state and New Zealand. Mr. Banducci said the company assumes elevated sales will continue into the fiscal first half, but there will also be higher costs to operate in a safe way.
In the first eight weeks of fiscal 2021, Woolworths said overall group sales were 12% higher. Australian food sales were up about 12%, New Zealand food sales were up 8%, Big W discount department store sales were up 21% and Endeavour Drinks sales were up 24%. Hotel sales, however, were down 31%.
The company is still progressing its separation of Endeavour, which is currently planned for the 2021 calendar year. Woolworths delayed the separation earlier this year.
"We have an experienced and resilient team, our business in a strong financial position, and we are focused on continuing to create better experiences for our customers, team and shareholders in fiscal 2021," Mr. Banducci said.
Write to Mike Cherney at firstname.lastname@example.org