By RTT News,
June 11, 2014, 04:15:00 AM EDT
(RTTNews.com) - J Sainsbury Plc (JSAIY.PK, SBRY.L), the parent company of British supermarket chain Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd., Wednesday said its first-quarter sales edged down 0.3 percent, while like-for-like sales declined 2.4 percent from last year citing challenging market conditions.
In a trading statement for the 12 weeks ended June 7, the company noted that excluding fuel, its quarterly retail sales were up 1.0 percent, and like-for-like sales declined 1.1 percent from a year earlier.
Looking ahead, Justin King, chief executive of the company said, "We expect customer spending to remain cautious and we will continue to invest to keep our offer competitive to help customers balance their household budget. We remain confident that our clear strategy and differentiated offer will allow us to continue to outperform our supermarket peers through the remainder of the year."
According to the firm, own-brand remains a key point of difference. Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" range performed particularly strong in the quarter. Further, the launch of Sainsbury's Easter eggs during Easter period more than doubled its own-brand market share to 40 percent, it stated.
General merchandise and clothing businesses continued to grow strongly in the quarter, particularly clothing, which showed a double-digit like-for-like sales growth. Entertainment also saw good growth, with new releases including Disney's "Frozen", the company said.
Sales from convenience grew by over 18 percent year-on-year. During the quarter, the firm opened 27 new convenience stores and refurbished a further 12 convenience stores.
Sainsbury stated that its high service levels resulted in winning the "Grocer 33 Customer Service and Availability Awards" for the second year in a row.
"Lower food price inflation and reduced fuel prices are a welcome respite to customers' finances but they continue to spend cautiously, leading to industry growth in the quarter being the slowest in a decade," King said.
Last month, the company had reported a higher profit for fiscal year ended March 15, 2014. Profit before tax was 898 million pounds, up from 772 million pounds in the prior year. Earnings per share climbed to 36.9 pence from 31.5 pence per share last year. Annual revenues were 23.95 billion pounds, compared with 23.30 billion pounds in fiscal 2013.
SBRY.L is currently trading at 337.40 pence, up 7.60 pence or 2.30 percent, on a volume of 4.19 million shares.
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