Woolworths Climbs to Highest in Two Weeks as Food Sales Rise

Woolworths Holdings Ltd. (WHL), a South African food and clothing retailer, rose in Johannesburg after saying growth in food sales accelerated from a year earlier.

The stock advanced as much as 3.2 percent to 74.50 rand, the highest intraday price since Nov. 6, and traded 2.1 percent higher at 73.70 rand as of 11:43 a.m. in Johannesburg. Woolworths is the only food or clothing retailer to gain on the FTSE/JSE Africa All Shares Index today.

Food sales increased 17 percent in the 20 weeks through Nov. 17, the Cape Town-based company said in a statement today. That compares with an 11 percent increase during the comparable period a year earlier. Clothing sales in South Africa increased by 11 percent.

“Woolworths seems to continue to gain market share and it’s seen as one of the better managed retailers,” Ferdi Heyneke, a trader at Afrifocus Securities Ltd., said by phone from Johannesburg today. “The market they serve is a segment that is resilient to the general slowdown.”

Consumer confidence in Africa’s largest economy dropped to a 10-year low in the third quarter as inflationary pressures curbed spending.

Sales in Australia and New Zealand rose 51 percent in Australian dollar terms, up from 37 percent a year earlier. Woolworths owns the Country Road brand in the region.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janice Kew in Johannesburg at jkew4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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