The company was hit by costs related to its acquisition of Australia’s David Jones.

(READ MORE: New management for David Jones and Country Road)

Woolworths, which sells upscale food and clothes, said diluted headline earnings per share totaled 360 cents, below a 389 cent estimate in a Reuters poll of 14 analysts.

Headline EPS, the most widely watched profit measure in South Africa, strips out certain one-off items.

[DATA WHL:Woolworths Holdings Limited], which recently acquired Australia’s second-largest department store, David Jones, said sales increased 14.4 per cent to 39.5 billion rand(3.72 billion US dollars).

Retailers in Africa’s second largest economy are struggling to grow sales as consumers rein in spending due to high personal debt, unemployment and rising fuel and transport prices.

But Woolworths, similar in style and products to Britain’s Marks & Spencer, is faring better as most of its customers are from the high-income category.

Shares in Woolworths have gained about third in the past twelve months, far outpacing rivals such Massmart and the broader market.