Sainsbury says it beat rivals but shares fall

 
Kasmira Jefford
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J SAINSBURY crowned itself “a Jubilee winner” after chief executive Justin King said the Queen’s celebrations helped the retailer continue to beat its rivals in the first quarter of 2012.

Like-for-like sales rose 1.4 per cent in the 12 weeks to 9 June, while total sales rose 3.8 per cent excluding fuel, with savvy shoppers continuing to save in order to splash out on special occasions like the Jubilee.

But shares slid more than three per cent yesterday, after sales were shy of analyst forecasts and King refused to reveal how much the Jubilee had added to his sales.

“We’re not going to break out individual weeks”, King said but conceding that it had enjoyed a record week outside of Christmas in the run-up to the Jubilee celebrations.

Earlier this week Tesco said it had added an extra £1bn to sales, although its like-for-like sales in contrast fell 1.5 per cent in the quarter.

“If you take the quarter as a whole it is pretty much like for like in terms of good news and bad news,” added King. “The good news of a special royal occasion, a few weeks of decent weather, and a few bank holidays, and the bad news of some challenging and unseasonable weather.”

King defended the slowdown on the previous quarter, when the supermarket giant saw a like-for-like growth of 2.6 per cent, saying it continued to beat the market “by some margin”.

Sainsbury’s said it was winning market share in its core general merchandise and clothing categories, as non-food sales continued to grow faster than food. The retailer enjoyed “the strongest ever sales week on clothing”, helped by a new collection of its Gok for TU womenswear range.

King offered some hope on consumer outlook, pointing to fuel prices which showed no year-on-year rise.