Driving availability on fresh is at the heart of a new back to basics' strategy at Sainsbury, said MD Stuart Mitchell.
Speaking as Sainsbury unveiled a double-digit rise in full-year profit, but disappointing sales growth, Mitchell said better availability on produce, fresh food and promoted lines was now a top priority.
The pledge came as new TNS data revealed Sainsbury lagged behind rivals when it came to customer perceptions of on-shelf availability (see p4), with just 83% of shoppers emerging from its stores able to purchase everything they wanted.
Dismissing analysts' claims that Sainsbury was throwing good money after bad on expensive refits and lagging competitors on sales, Mitchell said a better fresh offer and new non-food ranges hitting stores in the autumn would both drive the top line. Soft furnishings, cook and homeware would start filtering into broad appeal' stores in the autumn, followed by a "major clothing launch" in the spring, said Mitchell.
Sainsbury was also exploring the possibility of introducing more bus-sized vending machines after trialling the concept at its Hazel Grove store.
Group pre-exceptional pre-tax profit for the year to March 29 rose 10.8% to £695m on sales up 3% to £15.3m.
However, like-for-like sales including petrol were up just 2.3%, significantly behind market leader Tesco which clocked up a 4.1% increase.
Analysts welcomed Sainsbury's move to cut back on costly refits this year. Merrill Lynch analyst Andrew Fowler said: "There is good news. The UK cap-ex is being cut from over £1bn to £800m. It is overdue but to be welcomed."
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