SYDNEY, Australia (FNS) -- Woolworths plans to grow at a rate of 20 to 30 supermarkets per year, J. Dahlsen, Woolworths chairman, told the annual general meeting last week.
Dahlsen said the chain's growth will be enhanced by the introduction of a larger number of products and extended trading hours as well as new store formats to capture new market trends.
He said existing businesses would be expanded by "bolt-on" acquisitions and the development of new market strategies as well as the extension of its successful "adjacent businesses," Plus Petrol and Ezy Banking, plus its Dick Smith Electronics PowerHouse store rollout.
Dahlsen told the meeting the chain's Project Refresh is now recognized as a major driver in changing the way it conducts its business, improving its control of costs in most areas of the business, as the chain progressively moves to achieve international best practice.
"These benefits will provide a strong basis for maintaining our competitive position -- notwithstanding the entrance of new international competition and continuing strong domestic competition," he said.
He believed the new technological advancements the chain plans to roll out progressively over the next few years will put Woolworths at the forefront of retailing technology.
"With over $10 billion in sales last financial year and the servicing of over 13 million customers a week, we are the largest food retailer in Australia -- and equal to the best in the world," he said.
As a result of the company's various initiatives, it has saved approximately $85 million this year, said R. Corbett, Woolworths' chief executive officer.
Noting that the company has enjoyed a strong first quarter, he warned "we may not enjoy sales at this outstanding level throughout the year."
He added, "However, given a reasonably consistent economic performance, and a satisfactory Christmas, we remain confident of achieving high single-digit sales increases and low double-digit earnings-per-share increases for both the half year and the full year."