Woolworths Ltd chief executive Roger Corbett revealed on Wednesday that the retailer's performance in the first quarter of 2001-02 would be in line with analysts' forecasts.

The company reported a climb in sales for the fiscal first quarter ended October 1, 2000, of 9.6 per cent to A$5.29 billion.

That figure covered a 14-week period and excluded Australia's 10 per cent goods and services tax. It compared with sales of A$4.83 billion a year earlier, excluding wholesales sales tax adjustments Analysts forecast sales to increase by as much as 15 per cent in the current quarter.

But Corbett refused to be drawn about a potential acquisition of Woolworths New Zealand Ltd, saying only that he was still interested in the acquisition from current owner, Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd of Hong Kong.

"We will announce our sales for the first quarter in the next couple of weeks," Corbett confirmed at a lunch hosted by the Securities Institute of Australia in Sydney.

"It would be inappropriate for me to make too many more definitive comments at this stage on it...other than to say...when we make our announcement there won't be any surprises to expectations."

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