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King welcomes Sainsbury's Christmas performance

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Sainsbury's chief executive has welcomed the 5% increase in Christmas sales but warned that trading will be competitive into 2008.

Like-for-like sales for the 12 weeks to 29 December 2007 were up by up 5.1%, or 3.7% excluding fuel.

Total sales for the third quarter were 5.9% ahead, or 4.7% excluding fuel.

Justin King, chief executive, said: "This is a good result for the Christmas quarter, and is particularly pleasing given the level of competition during this period. We have now completed 12 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth.

"As a result of this continued strong sales momentum, we are also delighted to report that we have now successfully achieved our goal of 2.5bn of additional sales since March 2005. This significant milestone in our recovery was surpassed early in quarter four, three months ahead of plan.

"Sainsbury's Online continued to deliver exceptional sales growth of over 40% throughout the quarter. In the week before Christmas we delivered 90,000 orders, our best ever performance and up over 50% on the previous year. We now operate the service from an additional nine stores."

Sainsbury's came fourth in the top ten table for online wine retailer market share with 6.11%, according to Hitwise figures in the run-up to Christmas.

However, there was a cautionary note from King - acknowledging the claim by the British Retail Consortium earlier this week that trading would be challenging in the first half of 2008.

He said: "Consumer budgets are clearly under pressure and we expect the market to continue to be very competitive. The improvements we have made to our business during our recovery means we are well equipped to perform in this challenging environment and we remain confident in our ability to deliver our growth plans."

Marks & Spencer shares fell by almost 19% yesterday following the release of its disappointing Christmas trading results.