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Woolworths to add 10,000 jobs, CEO discusses Masters success

Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien has announced the company will create 10,000 new retail jobs by the end of the financial year, as the business recruits staff to work in new stores and distribution centres.

His comments came during yesterday’s investor briefing, in which the company also announced 39 new Woolworths stores would open in 2012 and that it would be targeting double the penetration of own-brand product sales over the next five years, in the hopes of providing wider variety and lower sales.

“In terms of our core business, I want to unlock sales growth for a tougher consumer and competitive environment now upon us,” O’Brien said.

According to O’Brien, the new director of supermarkets Tjeerd Jegen will conduct a wholesale review of Woolworths’ supermarket resources and strategy.

Currently, there are over 1,300 Woolworths Select and 350 Macro Wholefoods Market products on shelves, both of which have seen strong sales growth in the last quarter.

Woolworths new online platform Click then Collect was also introduced, which will launch early next year and allow customers to create a favourites list based on previous purchases, take advantage and multi-buy offers and leave a note for personal shoppers, such as ‘only ripe avocados please.’

Woolworths will also update its smartphone app, allowing people to shop online from the app in 2012 as well as search for health and wellbeing recipes, share shopping lists and save recipes to a favourite list.

Masters delivering on expectations

In addition to talking about its food business, O’Brien spoke about the success of Woolworths’ new home improvement venture, Masters.

“Our ambitions are clear, we have a strong pipeline of sites and early encouragement for our format from customers. This is a $40 billion segment and early signs are very positive, as we continue to open a new Masters store on average every three and a half years.”

With five stores now open in Victoria and Queensland, he said sales have been well ahead of budget and customers have reacted strongly to Masters’ format, range and pricing.

The next stores due to open will be Gregory Hills in NSW and Burnside in Victoria in December/January, and 16 additional stores are already under construction. According to O’Brien, there are about 100 Masters sites in the pipeline at present, making the retailer on target to meet its target of 150 sites in five years.

Woolworths is also working to strengthen its relationships with existing Danks hardware members, whilst attracting new franchises by delivering tiered membership options as well as additional member benefits including financial support for growth.

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