Sainbury’s sales recovery expected as Argos gains provide boost

Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Sainsbury’s is expected to report a sales recovery when it announces first quarter results on Tuesday, helped by rising shop price inflation and a continued strong performance at Argos.


Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The supermarket giant is tipped by City analysts to report a 2% rise in like-for-like sales over the period, a significant improvement on the last quarter’s 0.3%.

While the core supermarket business continues to face headwinds, overall sales are expected to be boosted by a further rise in inflation and a strong performance in non-food categories, as well as growth at Argos.

James Grzinic, analyst at Jefferies, said the performance will be boosted by “recovering supermarket like for like sales, albeit with growing inflation masking soft food volume performance, and solid Argos gains”.

The pound’s collapse following the Brexit vote has driven up inflation which, in moderation, can help supermarkets boost their sales and profit margins.

However, it can also drive shoppers to seek out bargain alternatives as rising costs are passed on to consumers.

In May, the Big Four chain warned over a hit from falling consumer confidence as price hikes start to bite after it suffered its third straight year of falling profits.

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The group revealed bottom line profits dropped 8.2% to £503 million for the year to March 11, while underlying profits fell 1% to £581 million.

Sainsbury’s said the squeeze on household spending was impacting general merchandise and clothing sales growth as Brexit-fuelled inflation outstrips wage increases.

This was only partly offset by a £77 million boost from the recently bought Argos chain, snapped up last year when it took over Home Retail Group for £1.4 billion.

Sainsbury’s is forecasting cost price inflation of 2% to 3% over the financial year, which is providing a welcome fillip for under-pressure food sales.

First quarter results will combine the numbers for Argos and Sainbury’s for the first time since the acquisition last year.

Although no split for Argos will be provided this time around, Barclays analysts expect like for like sales growth at the chain to track in line with the two prior quarters, at around 4%.