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Sainsbury's online grocery sales near £1bn, and growing by 20% a year

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Sainsbury’s today said its online grocery sales were approaching £1bn a year, and continue to grow by 20% a year, proving the success of its multichannel strategy.

The update came as the supermarket reported a 4.5% rise in revenues, excluding VAT but including fuel, to £23.30bn in the 52 weeks to March 16, up from £22.29bn the previous year. Like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of store openings and closures, rose by 1.8%, including VAT but excluding fuel. But pre-tax profits fell by 1.4% to £788m, from £799m last time, reflecting, said the supermarket, the smaller number of property sales that took place during the period.

Sainsbury’s said that during the year its market share had grown to 16.8%, its highest share for a decade, in a year that saw it open 1m sq ft of new space, including 14 supermarkets, eight extensions and 87 convenience stores.

“Our long-standing investment in complementary channels and services continues to deliver,” said chief executive Justin King. “The amount customers spend more than doubles when they shop in our supermarkets, convenience stores and online.”

The company’s online grocery sales, growing at 20% a year, were approaching £1bn, with orders regularly topping 190,000 a week.

Sainsbury’s said it was looking to new ways of offering digital products and services, from eBooks to Mobile Scan & Go. The latter service, trialled in three Sainsbury’s stores during the year, allows customers to track their spending in-store and then see their savings on their mobile phone. Using the technology, they can then pay without unloading their goods from the trolley.

Beyond groceries, the company said its Click & Collect service for non-food online orders was flourishing, with more than half of the website’s customer’s now using the service.

King also said that Sainsbury’s convenience stores, benefitting from the austerity-driven trend to top-up locally, would continue to grow beyond its current 500-strong estate to outnumber its supermarkets in the next year. Other highlights included the news that the supermarket now has the “largest multi-roof solar panel array in Europe,” with more than 82,000 solar panels at 189 stores producing renewable energy.

Looking to the future, King said: “While we see no near term change in the current economic situation, we remain confident that by continuing to invest in our long-standing strategy and by understanding and helping our customers, we are well-positioned for future growth.”
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