Woolworths Holdings’ annual profit surged and the sale of some Australian properties helped it to cut its debt. The clothing, food and homeware retailer had been renegotiating leases, reducing capital expenditure and cutting costs to help bolster its balance sheet. It has also sold Bourke Street Mens and Elizabeth Street properties in Australia, a part of its upmarket department chain David Jones. The group reduced net borrowings by over R10bn ($668mn) to R1.1bn, with a slight increase in free cash flow in the 52 weeks ended June 27. The retailer declared a final dividend of 66 cents per share, a 25.8% decrease on the prior year's 89 cents. It had withheld dividends at the half year stage to preserve cash.
Its 2022 financial year capex is seen at R2.8bn rand, up from 1.4bn rand in 2021 as it looks to aggressively invest in technology and its supply chain. Overall group turnover and concession sales rose by 9.7% to R85.9bn. Headline earnings per share (HEPS), the main gauge of profit in SA, climbed more than 200% to 374.4 cents while adjusted diluted HEPS, which strips out certain items, rose by 102.9%.