Bish-Jones not sheepish or dog-in-the-manger though
Woolworths ushered in the New Year with a dour post-Christmas trading statement. In an earlier-than-expected announcement, the mixed merchandiser posted flat like-for-like sales at its Mainchain stores for the four weeks to January 1. Disappointing sales of toys and DVDs and a shortage of electronic gaming hardware were the main drivers for the results.

Like-for-like sales at the retailer's Big W and MVC branches were down by 8 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively. The performance of the Big W chain over the period was a result of the phasing out of non-core categories, the retailer said.

Woolworths Group chief executive Trevor Bish-Jones said: 'Although we are disappointed with the sales performance in our retail business, we have made good progress on improving the gross margin and remain confident about the potential of Woolworths and our entertainment business. Woolworths has responded well to investment in systems and stores, which has resulted in a better store environment, an improved product offering and has made us significantly stronger operationally.'