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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 09:31 GMT
Sainsbury's: 'Recovery on track'
Sainsbury's is luring more customers into its aisles
Sainsbury's is luring more customers into its aisles
The UK supermarket group J Sainsbury has said its recovery programme is on track, as it reported total sales growth up 3.2% in the third quarter.

Like-for-like sales were up 0.7% while total sales excluding petrol were 2.4% improved.

Group chief executive Sir Peter Davis said: "Our third quarter results in both the US and UK supermarkets are in line with our expectations and are against tough comparatives with the millennium Christmas last year.

"In Sainsbury's supermarkets we had a record Christmas week in which we beat all of our budget expectations and where our supply chain coped admirably."

Market reaction

Sir Peter said Sainsbury's - the UK's number two grocer after Tesco - was now making progress with its two main short-term objectives, that of stopping a decline in profitability and reversing a decline in customer numbers.

"We are still in the early stages of our three-year recovery programme and are making good progress in upgrading our infrastructure," he said.

Sir Peter said the group had seen a 10% increase in sales over the Christmas week.

He said he was particularly pleased by the sales growth in stores that had been refurbished.

The company is pressing ahead with its plan to upgrade a further 150 stores this year.

Investors reacted positively to the signs of improvement at Sainsbury's.

Shares in the company were up 7p at 356p as as the markets closed on Friday.

Morrisons record

On Thursday, regional supermarket chain William Morrison delivered record record trading figures for the period up to Christmas.

The Bradford-based group reported 8% like-for-like growth and 5.5% increase in petrol sales.

Total sales for the Christmas period, including new stores, were up 16.7% on last year.

With just four weeks left to the end of the group's financial year, William Morrison also gave an update on the year's trading so far.

Total takings in the past 49 weeks were 15.9% ahead of the same point last year, with sales up 16.2% year-on-year in the past 22 weeks, it said.

Morrisons shares gained 1.75p at 182p when at close of trade on Friday.

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