Monday, 24 July, 2017

Sainsbury's sees sees boost thanks to demand for clothing

Strong quarter for Sainsbury's as sales rise Sainsbury beats analyst estimates as inflation helps to drive sales
Mae Harvey | 05 July, 2017, 00:28

Argos has been the main driver for refocused retail giant J Sainsbury plc (LON:SBRY) since the acquisition of the catalogue-based high street stores group previous year but today's trading statement also showed a brighter performance from the group's grocery core though challenges remain.

Chief Executive Mike Coupe, commented that although the market remained "competitive", Sainsbury's remained commitment to ensuring to "manage cost price pressures closely", as high inflationary levels continue to drive up prices for shoppers.

In a trading update for the 16 weeks to 1 July 2017, the company said like-for-like retail sales increased 2.3 per cent, excluding fuel but including the results of Argos.

Sainsbury's also opened one new supermarket alongside 10 new convenience stores as it pushes for expansion in the sector.

Clothing sales also shot up 7%, as its general merchandise sales were bolstered by the inclusion of Argos's figures.

Demand for deals on British strawberries and its summer eating range also boosted grocery sales.

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The retailer, which bought Argos [IRDX RARG] previous year, also saw general merchandise sales grow, while shoppers moved towards taking delivery of their products as quickly as possible.

But Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said despite the strong results, the bigger picture remained challenging for the United Kingdom supermarkets as weaker sterling is pushing up food prices and the trading environment remains as competitive as ever.

"These results are the first to blur the progress of the two brands since last year's acquisition - but Sainsbury's no longer needs to hide behind Argos's success".

Sainsbury's and its major rivals - market leader Tesco, Asda and Morrisons - are grappling with the rapid growth of German discounters Aldi and Lidl, and having to deal with more expensive food imports due to the post-Brexit vote fall in the value of the pound.

Mr Coupe said it was the group's "best performance for a number of years".

He said: "The concern is that the acquisition is taking management's eye of the ball a little when it comes to delivering on the core supermarket offering at a time of intense competition".

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