Variety retailer Woolworths revealed that group sales jumped 16.6 per cent in the 38 weeks to October 27, beating market expectations.

Woolworths group sales were driven primarily by acquisitions and new contracts – including one with Asda – within the retailer’s entertainment wholesale business. Overall third-party sales increased 61.9 per cent in the division, which includes THE and Bertrams.

However, retail sales slid 0.4 per cent. Woolworths chief executive Trevor Bish-Jones said that sales were affected by major sporting events including the Rugby World Cup, which took away from Saturday trading.

Bish-Jones added that the retail business is well set up for Christmas operationally and the Worth It range continues to perform well. He said: “We have made good progress across all of our businesses in the year to date. However, we continue to be cautious about the trading environment and have planned accordingly by focusing on cost control, cash generation and margin enhancement.”

Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander analyst Matthew McEachran said: “Apart from the obvious caution about the consumer environment, the chief executive’s statement reads reasonably positively, with a lot of things inside their control contributing positively to the group performance.”