Woolworths’ collectible Lion King Ooshies have helped kick off the current financial year with strong sales growth, after the supermarket posted a profit of $1.75 billion for the year ending June 30.
Chief executive Brad Banducci said the supermarket had recovered well from a first-half hit from the removal of single-use plastic bags, volatile weather and the success of rival Coles' Little Shop collectables.
Online sales increased by nearly a third to $2.5 billion, driven by strong growth from WooliesX, CountdownX and Big W, while on-demand delivery increased to a total 736 sites across the supermarkets, BWS and Dan Murphy's stores.
"We remain focused on reducing stock loss in FY20 following a relatively poor performance in [financial year 2019]," Mr Banducci said.
Big W leaked another $85 million in earnings during the year, in line with guidance, despite sales from continuing operations increasing by 4.2 per cent to $3.8 billion.
The department store's result was, however, an improvement on a $110 million earnings loss a year ago.
"We were pleased with the material improvement in sales growth in Big W over the course of FY19, with customers noticing the improvements we have been making to price, range and in-store experience,” Banucci said.
The CEO also said he expected an uncertain consumer environment and other cost pressures to weigh but insisted Woolworths was "well placed to respond to these challenges".
Ooshies copping backlash from customers
While Ooshies are fun for kids, many adults are slamming the collectibles for manipulating children and contributing to the world’s plastic problem.
Louise and Martin Grimmer from the Tasmanian School of Business said Ooshies inspired bad adult behaviour, and instilling addictive behaviour in children, much like gambling.
Environmental activists Alex Wadelton and Tom Whitty said Woolworths was ‘running reckless promotions that encourage the mass production of tiny plastic toys with a short-term mindset’.
Woolworths’ new collectibles
Woolworths has plans to continue the collectibles trend, but with plants instead of plastics.
Their new ‘Discover Garden’ collectibles will see shoppers collect a range of veggies, flowers and herbs in biodegradable pots.
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