Woolworths Group on Wednesday posted a wider adjusted first half loss as its same store sales slid, but said it expects a better second half.

The sweets to DVDs retailer said its adjusted loss before exceptional items was 66.8 million pounds, wider than a 36.2 million pound loss in the same period a year ago.

Like for like sales fell 8.3 percent.

Chief Executive Trevor Bish Jones said he expected a better performance in the second half due to a revamp of the stores' infrastructure. That improvement was already being seen, he said.

Woolworths like for like sales were down 3.5 percent for the seven weeks to 16 September 2006, an improved trend driven by instore merchandising and development of our multichannel capability, Woolworths said.

A survey of five analysts conducted by Woolworths had forecast an adjusted first half pretax loss of 69.6 million pounds. Consensus for the full year to the end of January is for a 41 million to 42 million pound profit.

Woolworths said its gross margin was in line with last year. The interim dividend rose 4.9 percent to 0.43 pence.