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Live news blog: Christmas trading results

Published:  09 January, 2013


Keep up to date with how the leading multiples, discounters and specialist retailers did over the Christmas and new year trading period with the Harpers live news blog.

Keep up to date with how the leading multiples, discounters and specialist retailers did over the Christmas and new year trading period with the Harpers live news blog.

January 21

Asda has reported a 23% rise in Champagne and sparkling wine sales over the Christmas period.

The retailer said it sold close to a quarter of a million bottles of Champagne in the week before New Year's Eve, with sales of Pierre Darcys Champagne Brut, which was on offer at £10, up 25% compared to 2011.

Sparkling wine sales rose by 28% and champagne by 17%, Asda said, causing a 1.7% increase in its market share.

"In times of austerity, shoppers look for ways to treat themselves on a budget, and this is never more true than at Christmas.

"With such a wide variety of quality sparkling wines and Champagne available, from branded Champagne at market-leading prices to trusted, award-winning own-label options, and sales that outperformed the market as a result, we're confident that we got our Christmas 2012 offering right.

"We're now looking forward to what should prove to be an exciting year ahead for the category," said Lynsey Grace, Asda's Champagne and sparkling wine buyer.

January 17

Bargain Booze has reported a 9.5% increase in like-for-like sales following its biggest ever TV and radio campaign.

Sales rose during the two-week £1 million campaign, which ran from 11 to 24 December. Overall like-for-like sales were up 3.4% in the six weeks to 31 December.

Prosecco sales grew by over 500% in volume, while New Zealand wine was up 14%, South Africa 15% and Spain 143%.

An autumn listing of Otra Vida Chardonnay and Malbec drove Argentinian sales by over 300% over the Christmas period, wine and tobacco buyer Sarah Richardson said.

Bargain Booze is launching a new French range with Boutinot in February.

January 10

Tesco has posted its strongest Christmas sales in three years. In the UK like-for-like sales (which exclude the impact of new store openings) rose by 1.8% and total sales climbed 4.2%. Tesco said the boost was driven by a much stronger food performance and follows investment in its fresh food range, as part its six-part plan to Build a Better Tesco.

Its premium Finest and budget Everyday Value own label ranges outperformed the business as a whole. Online food sales were up 18%, with 5% of customers who placed an online order in the week before Christmas choosing to use Tesco's drive-through Click & Collect service, which is now available at over 140 stores.

Tesco also announced the appointment of UK chief operating officer Chris Bush as UK managing director.

"I am pleased with our performance over the important Christmas and New Year period in the UK, which reflects the progress we are making in improving our offer for customers," said chief executive Philip Clarke.

Almost £270m has been wiped off the value of Marks & Spencer after it reported disappointing Christmas results. The retailer was forced to rush out a trading statement last night, 12 hours ahead of schedule, after figures were leaked to the press.

Like-for-like sales slumped by 1.8% in the 13 weeks to 29 December following poor general merchandise sales. Food sales performed much better, and grew by 0.3% on a like-for-like basis and 2.7% overall.

"Our food business has performed very well with record sales over the key Christmas trading period. Our general merchandise performance is not yet satisfactory but we are confident that the steps being taken by the new management team will address this.

"Our plan is to transform Marks & Spencer from a traditional UK retailer to an international multi-channel retailer. We are making good progress against this plan," chief executive Mark Bolland said.

January 9

Online retailers Naked Wines and Virgin saw an uplift in sales. Naked Wines by a healthy 33% year-on-year result for Christmas sales and Virgin at 8% year-on-year in December, taking its turnover to £6.27m.

Naked Wines founder and chief executive Rowan Gormley said: "The recession felt like a long-distant memory, with customers stocking up throughout November to see them through the Christmas period - and returning (quite sheepishly) in December to replenish dwindling stocks."

While Jay Wright, managing director, Virgin Wines said: "Equally satisfying is that over 25,000 new customers joined Virgin Wines in December alone. We all look forward with optimism to 2013 and growing the business to even greater levels."

Sainsbury's has emerged as a clear winner of the big supermarkets over the key festive trading period. Like-for-like sales (which exclude the impact of new store openings) rose by 1.5% in 14 weeks to January 5 while total sales rose by 3.9%.

Chief executive Justin King said the week before Christmas was Sainsbury's strongest trading week ever, with customer transactions exceeding 27 million. Own label sales grew at three times the rate of brands, with own label Prosecco and Champagne growing by over 15% year-on-year.

Sainsbury's has added 846,000 sq ft of trading space in the year-to-date and said it is on track to deliver its target of one million sq ft of new space by the end of the financial year.

January 8

Sales at Majestic Wine have grown by 5.1% in the seven weeks to December 31. The results were boosted by 16 new store openings. Like-for-like sales grew by 1.1%, a slower rate of growth than the 4% Majestic posted in the nine weeks to January 2 2012. Chief executive Steve Lewis described the Christmas season as challenging, but City investors maintained their recommendation to buy shares in the growing company.

The discounters were the runaway success story amongst supermarkets. Data from Kantar Worldpanel showed growth of 30.1% for Aldi, 10.8% for Lidl and 9.7% for Iceland in the 12 weeks to December 23. While the discount sector has been consistently growing, the Christmas results are significant because shoppers had previously traded up and away from grocery's lower tier over Christmas.

The results mean Aldi enjoyed an all-time record market share of 3.2%. "Aldi and Lidl both benefitted from carrying items such as goose, venison and fine wines in their pre-Christmas catalogues this year. It seems that offering premium products at budget prices has paid off for the discount retailers," said Kantar director Edward Garner.

The polarisation of the market continued as Waitrose achieved 5.4% growth.The Kantar results also revealed that amongst the big four supermarkets, Sainsbury's was the only one to increase its market share.

January 7

Morrisons has posted a disappointing 2.5% drop in like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 30 December with total sales down 0.9%.

The supermarket said it needed to improve its promotional innovation and communication of its point of difference, as well as accelerating its growth in online and convenience channels, which it has only recently entered.

"In a difficult market our sales les performance was lower than anticipated, but we have a strong business and significant opportunities to advance our strategy, as we accelerate our multi-channel offer," said chief executive Dalton Philips.

* The Christmas and new year period proved to be a success for many independent wine merchants. Read our report here on how individual merchants performed around the country.