Woolworths (WHL) – Short term gain, long term pain?

While WHL’s 1H21 results showed some encouraging signs of progress, there are some areas of concern. David Jones is evolving into a luxury retailer, but this could result in more concession sales that are lower margin. Its property sales provide immediate relief, but the longer-term benefits are questionable as the Elizabeth Street store lease dominates its lease portfolio. We think this long-term lease could make it more difficult to sell the David Jones business. We question FBH’s space reduction strategy, as we think FBH will need to target more middle-income customers (LSM 6-7) to win back meaningful market share. These customers may be less inclined to purchase clothing online, in our view.