20pc online growth spurs Sainsbury to beat sales forecasts
J SAINSBURY, Britain's third-biggest grocer, beat forecasts for underlying sales in its fourth quarter, with strong growth online and in convenience stores more than offsetting a weaker performance in its traditional outlets.
The supermarket chain has also benefited as shoppers flock to stores not hit by the horse-meat scandal.
Unlike Tesco and Asda, Sainsbury has not been implicated in the scandal, with none of its products testing positive for equine DNA.
Online sales and convenience stores are the two fastest growing areas for Britain's supermarkets as shopping habits change, with consumers increasingly using the internet to shop and high fuel prices discouraging trips to town centres and out-of-town malls.
Sainsbury's, which trails by annual revenue to market leaders Tesco and Wal-Mart's Asda, said yesterday its convenience store business was growing at over 18pc year-on-year, driven by a combination of new selling space and like-for-like sales growth, while online grocery sales were increasing nearly 20pc year-on-year.
Those channels drove a 3.6pc rise in its like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, in the 10 weeks to Saturday.
That was the 33rd consecutive quarter for underlying sales growth and compared with analysts' average forecast for a rise of 2.3pc, and growth of 0.9pc in the third quarter.
It was considerably ahead of a fourth-quarter like-for-like sales fall of 4.1pc reported by fourth-ranked grocer Wm Morrison last week and analysts' expectations that Tesco will next month post a flat to small drop in its fourth-quarter like-for-like sales.
Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said the firm had won market share and was well positioned to continue to outperform rivals.
Shares in Sainsbury's rose in London trading, valuing the business at £7.1bn (€8.3bn).