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Sainsbury’s reports 15% growth in online grocery sales

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Sainsbury’s today reported 15% growth in its online grocery sales in the first half of its financial year, and said ongoing work to roll out its enhanced grocery website nationwide would be completed by Easter 2014.

The supermarket said the growth in its ecommerce food business, which turns over more than £1bn a year and regularly delivers more than 180,000 orders a week, was driven by “a focus on customer service and product availability.” Its upgraded website has been designed to perform well on tablet devices, and, says Sainsbury’s, new features include faster and more intuitive product search and browsing, as well as an upgraded recipes and ideas section.

The supermarket is currently piloting mobile scan and go to enable customers to scan their own shopping using a smartphone. It says feedback from the trial, currently in place in four stores, has been positive, and that customers say it helps them stick to a budget.

Sainsbury’s also said more than half of its customers opted to collect their general merchandise orders made online from its stores, using Click & Collect.

The update came as Sainsbury’s reported a 4.3% rise in sales, excluding VAT but including fuel, to £12.7bn, in the 28 weeks to September 28, compared to the same time last year. Like-for-like sales rose by 1.4%, turning in growth for the 35th quarter in a row. Pre-tax profits rose by 9.1% to £433m. The company, which says it now has 16.8% of the market, its highest share for a decade, said its convenience business grew by 20%.

Sainsbury’s emphasized its values in the statement, from awareness of the provenance of its products, including a focus on British-produced food and Fairtrade products, to its role as a producer of solar energy. Sales of own-brand food are growing twice as fast as those of other brands, it added.

Justin King, chief executive, said: “While customers’ budgets remain tight and any recovery in the economy may take time to take effect, our consistent strategy and strong values-driven culture means we are well placed to continue to deliver for customers, colleagues and shareholders.”

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