"Sainsbury's is now a much better business able to compete and grow in this challenging environment". This is the view of chief executive Justin King after the supermarket revealed that it had exceeded its three-year financial targets.
The chain reported total retail sales of £19.287 million for the year ending March 22nd, up 5.8 per cent on 2007. Like for like sales rose by 3.9 per cent, while underlying profit before tax was up 28.4 per cent at £488 million. Profit before tax was £479 million.
The initial target was to reach £2.5 billion in sales by March 2008 - instead Sainsbury's reported it had grown sales by £2.7 billion. It has also enjoyed 13 quarters of consecutive like for like sales growth and now has 16.5 million customers a week compared to 14 million a week in 2005.
And, while Sainsbury's remains focused on building and stretching its lead in food, King revealed that the development of its non-food offer will also be accelerated.
"We're accelerating the development of our complementary non-food offer to provide customers with a broader shopping experience and our ability to do this is being driven by the addition of sales space through both extensions and new store developments," he said.
"We also continue to extend our relationship with customers beyond the traditional supermarket environment through the growth of our convenience store operation, our online offer and Sainsbury's Bank.
"We are today announcing plans to launch a non-food online business in the first half of 2009/10."