📊 The Woolworths brand was first established in South Africa in 1931 with the opening of its first store in Cape Town. From those early days the company’s dynamic store policies already differentiated it from its competitors. Three years later, a second branch opened in Durban, with another two, in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, opening a year later.
📊 In 1994, Woolworths Financial Services, a joint venture between Woolworths South Africa and Barclays Bank, was incorporated in 2000 to provide Woolworths customers with focused financial products and services.
📊 In 1997, WHL acquired a controlling interest in Country Road Group, with the remaining shares acquired in 2014. The Country Road brand was founded in 1974 as a manufacturer and supplier of women’s casual cotton shirts. The brand was re-launched in 2004 and has evolved into a leading lifestyle brand.
📊 Woolworths has become one of the leading South African retail chains today, with Woolworths South Africa divided into Woolworths Clothing and General Merchandise, Woolworths Food, and Woolworths Financial Services. Woolworth’s target market is mid to high-income consumers, with a further 11 international operations in sub-Saharan African countries, Australia, the Middle East and New Zealand. Woolworths employs over 40 000 employees in 1 300 stores, incorporating an added series of food stores and in-store restaurants.
📊 The group is one of the top 40 JSE-listed companies, and it has been listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) since 1997 with a historically strong share price. Woolworths shares trade under the stock symbol –WHL with a market cap of approximately R100 billion.
VISION & VALUES OF WOOLWORTHS
- Woolworths has recorded strong growth despite a volatile consumer economy, with financial data reporting Woolworths Clothing growing by 3.3% and Woolworths Food recording growth of 2.5%.
- The group also diversified its portfolio with the purchase in 2014 of the David Jones department stores in Australia for R10 billion, and retains a 12.12% stake in Country Road. As such, David Jones outperformed itself, raking in profits of A$157 million in its first year.
- This diversified portfolio with its sound market reputation boosted the group’s sales by 54.9% in 2015 alone, with profit before tax increasing by 20.5% and headline earnings by 19.4%. The group’s Australian subsidiary has brought in an overall contribution of 40% of Woolworth’s earnings.
- This impressive financial data has worked to drive up Woolworth’s share price to deliver strong dividends for those who choose to buy them on the JSE.
- The company has further differentiated its position in the market with its focus on sustainable suppliers, building the reputation of its food chains with its focus on organic produce sourced from reliable suppliers and farmers. This is an important move in cementing consumer confidence as global consumer trends move towards more sustainable and environmentally sound services and products.
MARKET PERFORMANCE OF WOOLWORTHS
- The live online stock charts show that Woolworths’ shares remain a strong buy despite the recent economic volatility. This is due largely to the fact that the group’s high-income consumer base has remained loyal as Woolworths continues to deliver on quality, outperforming its largest competitors in South Africa.
- Added to this, the group’s recent move to diversify into Australia serves to mitigate economic fluctuations elsewhere, and business forecasts show that Woolworths will continue to provide value for its investors in 2019 and beyond, as it maintains its reputation for delivering on quality to its customers.