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Total sales up at Woolworths, but l-f-ls suffer

Woolworths reported an increase of 11.2% in total group sales, with its kidswear business Ladybird the strongest performer.

Chief executive Trevor Bish-Jones said Ladybird had experienced double-digit growth for the 49 weeks to January 12, despite a dip of 3.2% in like-for-sales across Woolworth's retail business. "Ladybird's market share is up and it's business as usual," said Bish-Jones.

The group anticipates that Woolworths Retail will return to profitability in the current year, despite negative like-for-likes. However Woolworths said the level of profitability would be low.

Woolworths added that as a result of tighter stock control at the business had £61 million less stock than the previous year at the end of the first week of the January Sale.

Bish-Jones added: "Christmas was a very challenging time for the group. However, in spite of volatile and highly competitive markets, all parts of the business took steps forward. We are pleased that the progress made across the group through this year is expected to lead to an improvement in profitability, including Woolworths Retail returning to profit."

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