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Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Safeway sales rise
A Safeway store
The UK's fourth biggest supermarket chain, Safeway, says that its new price cutting strategy has helped it reverse its slide and improve market share.

Ignoring new store space, it says that sales were up 5% in the first quarter of the current financial year.


We are taking market share from all the players but we are also growing on our own terms

Carlos Criado-Perez
First quarter profits were ahead of last year and Safeway says it is firmly on course to report good profit growth at the first half stage in November.

New Safeway chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez, a former Wal-Mart executive, has shaken up the group since arriving last autumn.

Among his initiatives has been the devolving of control over promotions to individual store managers, who are being given huge incentives to improve their stores' performance.

He has also changed the focus of the chain onto price cuts. To facilitate this its ABC loyalty card scheme was abolished in April.

Market shares

The result has been that it is now attracting a million more customers to its stores each week, an 11% increase on last year.

Mr Criado-Perez said Safeway's market share currently stood at either 10.3% or 9.4% depending on the measure used.

"We are taking market share from all the players but we are also growing on our own terms," he said.

This increase in trade has been prompted by an average 6.1% cut in prices and increased investment in promotions.

Safeway's strategy involves deep price cuts on a limited and rapidly changing range of products, mixing these with fully priced groceries, as well as making improvements to its stores.

Safeway's profits have slumped in the past two years as it has suffered at the hands of rivals, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's.

Safeway's shares were unchanged in afternoon trading.

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See also:

04 May 00 | Business
Safeway scraps loyalty card
17 May 00 | Business
Profits slump at Safeway
18 Nov 99 | Business
Safeway faces cash demand probe
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