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Value focus at Woolworths

Woolworths, the high street chain, will refocus on delivering value and streamlining its product offer as it looks to reposition itself as a family retailer.

Its new chief executive Steve Johnson said the business had lost its value perception over the past four years. “Woolworths has lots its way strategically. Prices have risen, eroding Woolworths’s value credentials,” he said.

Johnson added that Woolworths’ offer had become too complicated. “We have 40,000 SKUs and 57 different own-label brands. We’ll reduce the range by 25% to create space for our top-selling lines and have a single own-label umbrella.”

He added that kids would continue to be an important target end-consumer for Woolworths, but that more emphasis would be placed on families as a whole.
Johnson pointed out that the most frequently requested item in the company’s stores was women’s tights, which Woolworths no longer sells. “We need to look at what we ought to be selling,” he said.

Woolworths’ losses widened to £99.7 million for the 26 weeks to August 2, up from a loss of £63.8m the previous year. Group sales at Woolworths fell 3% to £1.1 billion, while retail like-for-like sales were down 3.2% during the period.

However, retail like-for-like sales for the first six weeks of its second half are up by 0.4%.Johnson said: “Christmas will come late, but we are optimistic.”

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