2002/11/21
Woolworths Holdings Limited - Chairman's Statement [JSE Securities Exchange - SENS]
 
WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS LIMITED
(Incorporated in the Republic of South Africa)
(Registration Number 1929/001986/06)
Share code: WHL   ISIN: ZAE000028288
("Woolworths" or "the company")
CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT
TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
HELD ON THURSDAY, 21 NOVEMBER 2002
Trading conditions in both South Africa and Australia for the quarter have been
better than expected.  The economies of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand
have all been less affected by the downturn in world business activity that has
been seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
In each country property prices remain strong.  In South Africa's case, the tax
benefits continued to flow through to the consumer's pockets.  All three
currencies have strengthened somewhat against the dollar giving further rise to
consumer confidence.
In South Africa Woolworths has continued to benefit from the strong consumer
spending that is occurring throughout retail and are gaining share of market in
both foods and textiles.  Trading has been slightly ahead of budget.
Inflation still remains very strong with foods showing a level of some 17%, the
highest we have had for many years and clothing not much lower at 13 - 14%.
We expect the impact of the interest hikes to start to bite from now on and
therefore expect trading conditions to be tougher for the balance of the year.
The current economic data in Australia and New Zealand show that both economies
continue to grow.  However, in the case of Australia, a national drought and the
ongoing uncertainty of offshore prospects will begin to weigh on the growth in
the coming year.  The Australian Reserve Bank has moved the interest rate policy
to a neutral status to offset these downside risks.  In New Zealand, the market
also anticipates the Reserve Bank to hold interest rates.
In Country Road's case, sales and profitability are on budget and up on last
year.  They have now sold their ranges out to June next year to their wholesale
customers who are positive about those ranges in terms of fashionability,
quality and price.
Whilst we do not anticipate the strength of the first quarter to flow throughout
the year, we do anticipate a real growth in earnings for the full period.
END
Contact : Simon Susman    :   Chief Executive Officer  : 083 252 5696
          Norman Thomson  :   Finance Director         : 083 251 6354
Date: 21/11/2002 03:40:00 PM Produced by the JSE SENS Department
Source: JSE Securities Exchange - SENS
 
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