Somerfield has blamed a like-for-like sales slump in its Somerfield fascia stores on cutbacks in an aggressive but costly promotions campaign. In a trading statement issued this week the company said the promotions in the first quarter had initially produced strong sales but had to be reduced to offset a negative impact on profits. Consequently like-for-like sales in the second quarter ended November 10 were down 0.6% compared with 4.9% growth in the first quarter. One analyst said: "The moment you stop giving Somerfield customers profitless products, they walk away ­ it's not a growth business." Somerfield chief executive Alan Smith confessed: "The campaign got pushed too far in terms of gross margins and ultimately cost us too much." However, the company claimed that its pre-tax profit was currently in line with the board's full-year expectations and that its five-year recovery plan ­ incorporating a significant store refit programme ­ was on track. Interim figures indicate a 2.5% increase in Somerfield fascia sales for the 28 weeks to November 10 and a 3.5% increase in Kwik Save sales. The company reported group sales up 2.9% for the period. Growth in the company's Kwik Save stores slipped from 4% in the first quarter to 2.3% in the second. However Kwik Save stores that have been through the minor refit programme were averaging 6.2% over 28 weeks. {{NEWS }}

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