Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
imageThe next Woolworths AGM will be a challenging one for the board.Dan Peled/AAP

Woolworths shareholders have had a torrid couple of years. The company’s market capitalisation is down around a third since mid-2014 – quite a hit for a company once worth almost A$50 billion dollars. Today it forecast a 35% fall in half-year profit, sending its shares plunging by more than 9%.

The disastrous Masters foray is partly to blame. Conceived in oligopolitical hubris, Masters has been an unmitigated disaster for Woolworths shareholders. They were right to expect far better from the company’s exceedingly well-remunerated board and senior executives. The fact that Masters has ended quite a few careers is cold comfort for shareholders who have lost hard earned savings and superannuation.

Today’s results open a new chapter of woe. Once, Masters was seen as an unfortunate sideshow, able to be separated from the Goliathan strength of Woolies’ grocery cash machine. Today, the illusory nature of that misapprehension has emerged – with sales in decline year-on-year for like stores, and a flagged collapse of earnings by up to a third and, most tellingly, no end in sight.

While the problems of the last 18 months at Woolworths have often been ascribed to the Masters debacle, analysts have long been worried about the main game in groceries. Aldi, the privately-held German multinational, has been playing a cautious and patient long game.

Aldi’s “value proposition” to consumers is starkly different to both Woolworths and Coles, and it’s clear Australians have warmed to what Aldi has to offer – a narrow range of good quality products at prices equivalent to the majors’ “specials”. The narrow range and small format stores have the additional benefit of quick and easy shopping for busy consumers. Woolworths has been losing market share quickly.

Its response has so far been too little and too late. Woolworths has tried to “shoehorn” an Aldi equivalent into the lower shelves of its large format stores. It suggests to consumers that they can get a basket of goods similar to Aldi’s at the same price within their stores if they look hard enough. In this regard – to paraphrase the late, great Z.Z. Hill - what Woolies are selling, Australians ain’t buying.

The limited success of this “Aldification” of Woolworths stores has, however, done damage to Woolworths' core business of groceries. Whenever consumers choose the low cost goods within Woolworths, it is at the expense of the higher margin goods they also have for sale. This is evidenced by the steep decline in margins reported today – with sales in slight decline (2.5%) and projected earnings in free fall (28 to 35%). Woolworths is learning the hard way that while revenues are easy to lose, the same can’t be said for the fixed costs involved in running a national retailer.

In the background, again, lies Masters. Its disastrous drain on revenues has meant Woolworths has had little to invest in new stores elsewhere. While Woolworths has opened six new stores during the quarter, Aldi has flagged the opening of up to 80 new stores during 2016, on top of the 80 it opened this year. Its expansion is uncannily like a German train timetable and its geographical spread means most of these new stores will not cannibalise existing sales – something Woolworths can rarely achieve.

John Rice is a member of the ALP and the NTEU.

Nigel Martin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-aldification-of-woolworths-is-destroying-its-value-48885

INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

The Conversation

Politics

Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament

Mr Speaker, when we meet in this place, we are on Ngunnawal country. I give my thanks and pay my respects to our Ngunnawal elders, past, present and importantly emerging for our future. I honour...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Alan Jones

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Alan.    JONES: I was just thinking last night when we're going to talk to you today, you must feel as though you've ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Prime Minister Bridget McKenzie press conference

PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon everybody. The good news is that the Qantas flight is on its way to Wuhan and I want to thank everybody for their cooperation, particularly the Chinese Government as...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Is Hiring a Corporate Lawyer for Your Company Necessary?

Alternative online legal services like LegalZoom, Incfile, and Rocket Lawyer provides young and budding entrepreneurs access to legal help at a much affordable price without having to hire or meet a l...

Joe Curmi - avatar Joe Curmi

Top 5 Green Marketing Ideas for Your Eco-Friendly Small Business

According to studies, about 33 percent of consumers prefer buying from brands that care about their impact on the environment. This is good news for anyone running an eco-friendly business. It’s a...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Choosing the Right Coworking Space For Your Business

As the capital of Victoria in Australia, Melbourne is inhabited by millions of people and is known as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The latter is due to the city’s diverse community...

Sarah Williams - avatar Sarah Williams

Travel

Travelling With Pets? Here Is What You Should Know

Only a pet parent can understand the dilemma one experiences while planning a vacation. Do you leave your pets at home?  Will you get a pet sitter or someone to take care of them while you are away?...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Be a Smart Frugal Traveller

You are looking through Instagram, watching story after story of your followers overseas at a beach in Santorini, walking through the piazza in Italy, and eating a baguette in front of the Eiffel ...

News Company - avatar News Company

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR GRADUATION TRIP

Graduation is the stage of life when a student receives the rewards of hard work of years. It must have taken sleepless nights and tiring days to achieve the task. Now, as you have received your cov...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo