J Sainsbury has reported a strong Christmas with record sales, and over 340,000 online grocery orders.
The company announced its third quarter results, showing a total retail sales rise of 1.2% (excl. fuel) and a like-for-like sales uplift of 1.1% (excl. fuel) for the 15 weeks to 6 January 2018.
Grocery sales grew 2.3% with Groceries Online and Convenience up 8.2% and 7.3% respectively.
Mike Coupe, Group Chief Executive Officer, said, 'We're pleased with our performance across the Group this quarter. We had a strong Christmas week, with record sales, over 340,000 online grocery orders and stellar growth in Argos Fast Track delivery and collection. Online accounted for 20% of the Group's sales during the quarter.
'We delivered an excellent operational performance across the Group, with great availability, strong customer satisfaction scores and our lowest level of waste ever at Christmas. Friday 22nd was our biggest sales day for stores and we also delivered an online grocery order to customers every second. Customers bought more Taste the Difference food than last year as people treated themselves and our popular 25p veg lines helped our customers live well for less.
'General Merchandise and Clothing grew market share in a challenging market. Argos stores in Sainsbury's supermarkets performed particularly well and Argos saw record sales across the Black Friday period.
'I would like to thank all of our colleagues for their hard work and support over the past few months in helping us deliver a great Christmas for our customers.'
While market conditions remain challenging and the group is cautious about the consumer environment in the year ahead, now expects to achieve £80m-£85m of EBITDA (£72m-£77m EBIT) synergies from the Argos acquisition by March 2018, ahead of our previous guidance of £65m EBITDA (£58m EBIT). As a consequence, the firm expects 2017/18 underlying profit to be moderately ahead of published consensus.
Strategic and operational highlights:
Further enhance its differentiated food proposition
• The group launched 185 new food lines for Christmas, almost half of which were in its premium Taste the Difference range
• It helped customers to live well for less this Christmas, offering key Christmas vegetable lines for 25p and some of the lowest turkey prices in the market. It grew market share in both turkey and produce during the key week, when more customers bought their main Christmas meal at Sainsbury's
• It completed 34 range reviews during the quarter, covering 13% of grocery sales
It continues to invest in channels to meet customers' changing shopping habits:
• Same day Groceries Online is now available from 93 stores, covering 38% of UK households
• SmartShop scan as you go shopping is available in 45 of supermarkets
• It opened four convenience stores during the quarter