I am delighted to present my first report as Group CEO of Metcash. The ongoing success of our independent retailers is at the core of our purpose at Metcash, and I am truly excited by the passion of our retailers, the commitment of our suppliers and the enthusiasm of the Metcash team.
The ongoing execution of our strategic initiatives across our Food, Liquor and Hardware pillars underpinned the Group reporting an improvement in underlying earnings for the year. We reported an underlying profit after tax for the year of $215.6m. This includes strong growth in the Hardware pillar due to the inclusion of a full year of earnings from the HTH acquisition and the related integration synergies.
Pleasingly, we also delivered another strong cash outcome. This included Group operating cash flow of $288.6m, which was the key driver of a $123.6m reduction in net debt and a net cash position at year-end of $42.8m.
While we continue to have challenging markets, I am excited about our plans for the future. Supporting independent retailers is central to our strategic focus, and the past year saw significant progress on our retailer-centred initiatives Download the report to read more.