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Focus on multichannel and product value and quality will help Sainsbury’s outperform its rivals, says its chief executive

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Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s , today said a focus on multichannel services and on offering value-for-money quality products would help the supermarket outperform its rivals.

“We believe that the great value and quality of our products, combined with a strong focus on developing our multi-channel offer, will enable us to outperform our supermarket peers,” he said in a fourth-quarter trading update to investors.

His comments came at the end of a quarter in which Sainsbury’s online sales lifted, but its overall retail sales fell.

The supermarket’s online grocery business enjoyed 14% growth in orders during the 10 weeks to March 14, with a record week of 245,000 orders. But overall sales fell during the period, with retail sales down by 0.3% on a total basis, excluding fuel, and down by 1.9% on a like-for-like basis.

Coupe said the company had invested in more convenient ways for customers to buy during the quarter, opening 23 convenience stores during the quarter, introducing click and collect grocery services – “yet another way for us to serve our customers whenever and wherever they want” – that will reach 100 sites by the end of the year, and striking a partnership with Argos which is to open 10 digital stores inside Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

The company has also invested £150m in cutting prices and today it said 1,100 prices had now been reduced. Over those 1,100 products, the volume of sales has lifted by 3%. “As we have reduced prices and simplified our promotional offer, we have seen like-for-like transactions grow in the quarter as new customers are discovering the great value we represent,” said Coupe.

“We expect the market to remain challenging for the foreseeable future,” he added. “Food deflation is likely to persist for the rest of this calendar year, and competitive pressures on price will continue.

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