Woolworths is to reduce its 60 own-brands to just four as part of its improvement strategy.

The mid-range Woolworths brand, launched in April, will consolidate 57 existing brands and sit alongside Ladybird, Chad Valley and Worthit!.

New chief executive Steve Johnson said consolidation, which has been planned for some time, made sense.

“There is a lack of focus on own-brand as a value differentiator,” he said. “Woolworths has a massively overly complicated range. I want to reduce our 40,000 SKUs by 25 per cent. Worthit! shows that when you get it right, it really works.”

Worthit!, comprising about 1,000 products, contributes sales of£100 million a year.

On Wednesday, Woolworths revealed record first-half losses before tax of£99.7 million for the 26 weeks to August 2, compared with a£63.8 million loss posted at the same point last year.

Like-for-like sales at Woolworths’ core retail business fell 3.2 per cent and group sales slid 3 per cent in the period to£1.1 billion. However, retail like-for-likes for the first six weeks of the second half rose 0.4 per cent.

The retailer reported that while its eight concessions in Somerfield stores were performing well, the venture is on hold at present. Somerfield is being taken over by the Co-op and Johnson hopes to hold discussions soon about the future of its relationship with Woolworths.

Johnson, who will unveil a formal turnaround strategy after Christmas, said: “I took this job because I am convinced there is space on the high street for a successful home-based variety store offering value and convenience.”

Woolworths is consulting over the future of its final salary pension scheme. Johnson said Woolworths would make “big cash savings” if it was closed. There are about 10,000 people in the scheme.