After a gruelling three years, there may just be light at the end of the tunnel for Woolworths. The retailer’s stock plunged 38% in that time, largely because of its 2014 deal to buy the 181-year-old Australian department store chain David Jones for R23.3bn.

Last week, CEO Ian Moir must have breathed a sigh of relief when he announced that its sales had grown 5.9% for the 53 weeks to the end of June — 5.1% if the movement in the Australian dollar is excluded...

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