Safeway survives turbulent times

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Related tags: Safeway, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda

Safeway, the UK food retailer, has maintained sales and profits
during a difficult first quarter dogged by uncertainty over the
future of the chain. A resilient performance by the embattled

Safeway​, the British food retailer, has spent the last six months in limbo while the regulators rule on which of five potential bidders will be allowed to buy the company.

While these are far from ideal conditions in which to do business, Safeway has nonetheless shown itself to be extremely resilient, maintaining like-for-like sales in the first quarter of the year.

Speaking at the company's AGM, Safeway chairman David Webster said that like-for-like sales for the first 12 weeks of the current fiscal year were just slightly lower than in the same period a year earlier, dropping 0.6 per cent when adjusted to take account of the change in the Easter period.

Unadjusted for the timing of Easter timing, like-for-like sales growth was 0.3 per cent, while total sales grew by 1.1 per cent.

Profits were also in line with those seen a year earlier, Webster said, "a remarkable achievement in current circumstances"​.

Carlos Criado-Perez, Safeway's chief executive, said that the company had achieved its goal of broadly stable trading during the period of uncertainty, and that he expected to maintain this performance for the rest of the year.

"Given the good progress we are continuing to make with our new format stores, the effectiveness of our hi-lo promotional programme and the pace of improvement in our ranges, all of which are helping us to serve our 10 million shoppers better every day, I remain confident that we are ready to meet the challenges which lie ahead,"​ he said.

Five companies are bidding for Safeway - retailers Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda/Wal-Mart and Morrisons, as well as Trackdean Investments, the bidding vehicle for entrepreneur Philip Green - with the four supermarket bids all subject to approval by the Competition Commission.

Last month the Commission said it had reached the half way stage in its investigation, adding that it was still some way off a decision. Morrisons, the only company to have actually made a firm bid for Safeway, is seen as the new front runner in the race, which should be decided on 12 August when the Commission reports its finding to the government.

Related topics: Market Trends

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