Woolworths Holdings Limited Reports Decline in Interim Profits Amidst Challenging Economic Climate

  • Woolworths Holdings Limited reports 14.2% decrease in profit before tax amidst challenging economic conditions.
  • Company attributes decline to factors like interest rate increases, port congestion, and subdued discretionary spending.
  • Hubert Brody to step down from WHL Board; Clive Thomson appointed as his successor as Chairman.
Published by
Lethabo Ntsoane

Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) has announced its unaudited interim group results for the 26 weeks ended 24 December 2023. The company’s financial performance for the period reflects a decline in profits amidst a challenging macro-economic backdrop.

Financial Overview

The company reported a 14.2% decrease in profit before tax for continuing operations, amounting to R2.5 billion. Earnings per share (EPS) also experienced a downturn, dropping by 7.4% to 202.9 cents per share. Despite a 5.1% increase in turnover to R37.5 billion for continuing operations, factors such as interest rate increases and higher living costs impacted profitability.

Group Performance and Factors Impacting Results

The Group’s operations were significantly affected by adverse macro-economic conditions, including sustained interest rate increases and higher living costs. Disruptions in South Africa, such as load shedding, port congestion, and the Avian flu outbreak, further hampered business operations.

While turnover and concession sales showed growth of 5.4% for continuing operations, the company experienced a decline in EPS and headline EPS due to subdued discretionary spending. Share repurchases in the prior financial year positively impacted per-share measures, including dividend per share.

Business Segment Performance

Woolworths’ various business segments experienced mixed performances:

  • Woolworths Food: Despite challenges, the food business delivered solid growth, with turnover and concession sales up by 8.4%.
  • Woolworths Fashion, Beauty, and Home (FBH): Sales growth was impeded by poor availability, resulting in a modest increase of 2.2%.
  • Woolworths Financial Services (WFS): While the book increased, there was a rise in impairment rates, although profit after tax improved.
  • Country Road Group (CRG): Sales declined by 5.0%, attributed to the challenging retail environment and increased promotional activity.


Looking ahead, Woolworths anticipates continued challenges in the economic environment. Elevated interest rates and constrained consumer disposable income are expected to persist. Additionally, South Africa faces energy crises and infrastructure challenges, further complicating economic recovery efforts.

Despite these challenges, Woolworths remains confident in its ability to execute its strategies effectively. The company emphasizes its robust balance sheet, cash generation capabilities, and strategic investments as key strengths to navigate through the uncertain economic landscape.

Dividend Declaration and Changes to the Board

The Board of Directors declared an interim gross cash dividend per ordinary share of 148.0 cents, representing a 6.6% decrease from the prior period. Additionally, Hubert Brody will be stepping down from the WHL Board, with Clive Thomson appointed as his successor as Chairman.


Woolworths Holdings Limited faces ongoing challenges amidst a turbulent economic environment. Despite these obstacles, the company remains focused on executing its strategies and leveraging its strengths to drive future growth and profitability.


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Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted: Email: lethabo@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @NtsoaneLethabo