Woolworths cheered investors yesterday with news that losses had narrowed in the first half, but signalled caution over its prospects heading into Christmas. Financial Times. The Daily Telegraph. The Times

The results brought some respite to embattled chief executive Trevor Bish-Jones, who has been under pressure from Baugur, Woolworths’ largest shareholder, over the retail division’s poor performance.

Both Baugur and the Woolworths board have considered demerging the group’s wholesale and retail arms, and selling off a large number of stores.

Group revenues rose 16% to £1.14bn for the 26 weeks to 4 August, while pretax losses were reduced from £64.9m to £63.8m.

Bish-Jones said: ‘I would be naïve to say consumer confidence going into Christmas isn’t going to be lower than last year, but Woolworths sells at comparatively lower prices and focuses on kids. I wouldn’t want to be selling carpets or furniture at the moment. ‘