Media Relations: What The Papers Say - Woolies counters gloomy figures

There was a poor start to the week for Woolworths as it admitted a year-on-year sales downturn of 4.4 per cent over the 18 weeks to 4 June, evidence for some of a deeper malaise in the high street.

'Woolworths adds to UK retail gloom' (Financial Times, 7 June). Indeed, Kevin Hawkins of the British Retail Consortium said the figures removed any doubt 'we are now in a consumer-led recession' (The Guardian, 7 June).

Woolworths, however, presented the news with an adept hand, highlighting its management of costs, ongoing store refurbishment and disposal programme of Big W and MVC stores. Further positive news followed, with the announcement of a boardroom expansion: 'Three in as Woolies looks to strengthen boardroom' (Edinburgh Evening News, 10 June).

The hires included a new finance director, Stephen East; CEO Trevor Bish-Jones noted that 'after three months without a finance director, you realise they do have their uses' (The Daily Telegraph, 8 June). East enthused: 'Woolworths is a fantastic brand with a lot of potential' (Sky.com, 10 June).

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow. www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk.

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