UK retailer Sainsbury’s is holding steady during a challenging time for supermarket chains in the UK, posting profits overall in the half-year period that ended in mid-September.
Sainsbury’s grocery sales exceeded expectations by increasing 0.8%, even as general merchandise sales tumbled nearly 6% as supply chain troubles plague the industry. But all numbers look better when compared with 2019-20 figures.
“We are making good progress delivering our plan to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s,” CEO Simon Roberts said. “We have grown market share through improving value for customers, tripling our rate of food innovation and delivering customer satisfaction ahead of our key competitors.”
Sainsbury’s officials say that food-first plan that began last November is providing strong returns and improved customer satisfaction compared with competitors, boosting sales and market share. One area showing marked improvement – which is being seen at retailers across the UK – is the growth in online, where it says sales have increased 13% year over year and 128% in the past two years. Its digital sales overall were £5.8 billion.
One of the most significant moves from Sainsbury’s has been its price-match guarantee with Aldi on nearly 300 of its most popular items. That includes fruits and vegetables and many other cook-at-home staples such as meat, fish and poultry. This Autumn, Sainsbury’s is keeping in check pricing on more than 2,500 products for two months.
In the lead up to Christmas, Sainsbury’s also is launching 300 new products, including an array of healthful food items. That follows its Summer Edition salad range items as well as its own brand Plant Pioneers plant-based alternatives and its Organic British veg box.
It has also taken significant steps to cut sugar and salt in its ranges through Healthy and Better for You products and got more than a half million of its customers – and nearly 100,000 colleagues – to engage in more healthy habits over the past year. For shoppers, that meant taking part in its Great Big Fruit and Veg Challenge to boost the amount of fresh produce in their diets.
Despite the positive news, there are concerns about the availability of products heading to the end of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic affects production and delivery. Roberts said Sainsbury’s is ready to meet customer need, though they may have to seek alternatives on some items.
“Our industry faces labour and supply chain challenges, however our scale, advanced cost saving programme, logistics operations and strong supplier relationships put us in a good position as we head into Christmas,” he said.