Pignoletto boosts Sainsbury’s Christmas

Sainsbury’s credits strong sales of Italian “Prosecco alternative” Pignoletto for its promising Christmas results, along with booze laden Christmas puddings.

20090122-sainsburys-storeChief executive Mike Coupe singled out the Italian sparkler, which was added to the range in November, saying it had been “embraced” by the consumers. The Taste the Difference wine range and Christmas classics such as its Cognac Laced Christmas Puddings had also proved key tools in its Christmas success, he said.

“We launched our new Taste the difference wines in time for Christmas which were well received and contributed to sales growth of over 18% across the range,” Coupe said.

Chief financial officer John Rogers added that the last few Christmas had seen its Taste the Difference label do “tremendously well”. “We always see strong participation in that particular sub- brand over the Christmas period and we saw that come through loud and clear this Christmas,” he told analysts.

The retailer eported total retail sales during the third quarter up 0.8% (excluding fuel), with like-for-like retail sales in the same period down 0.4% (excl fuel). Online orders also grew, with sales up 10% and order volumes up 15%, it said, despite the highly competitive market, as highlighted by recent data from Kantar.

“We had a very strong Christmas; that’s self-evident in the numbers we’ve shown in the face of the statement, and hence why we’ve just update the guidance on a like-for-like basis for the full half,” Coupe told analysts.

“If you look at the shape of our business we’re pretty pleased. We had like for like item growth, we had like for like item growth in our food business so we’re selling more volume, we had like for like transaction growth but that’s underpinned by the continuing challenge of deflation which we think will continue through the back-end of this financial year and into the early summer.”

However the retailer raised its expectations for like-for-like sales during the second half of the year on the back of its good performance over the quarter.

Coupe noted the reduction in vouchering and promotional activity, and pointed out its commitment to streamlining and simplifying its prices and promotions. “Our continued investment in quality, price and service drove like-for-like transaction and volume growth year- on-year,” Coupe said. “We will continue to remain competitive on price and our performance this quarter provides further evidence that out strategy is working.”

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