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Supermarket sales fell by a further 3.7% in the most recent three months, according to Kantar, as inflation hit its highest level since 2013.

Take home grocery sales slide 3.7% in the 12 weeks to 20 February, though remain 8.4% higher than the same period before the pandemic in 2020 as the decline reflects last year’s winter lockdown when the public was eating more meals and snacks at home.

The fall in spending comes despite a new high in grocery prices as inflation stands at 4.3% in February.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, commented: “Apart from the start of the pandemic, when we saw grocers cut promotional deals to maintain availability, this is the fastest rate of inflation we’ve recorded since September 2013.

“Added to this, ongoing supply chain pressures and the potential impact of the conflict in Ukraine are set to continue pushing up prices paid by consumers.”

On an individual grocer basis, the discounters were the only physical retailers in growth, with Aldi and Lidl both up 3.3% in the period.

Tesco was the best big four performer, with sales down 2.6%, while Sainsbury’s saw a 4.1% sales drop, Asda 5.5% and Morrisons 8.2%. On a two-year basis Tesco remains up 10.2%, compared to 7.5% at Sainsbury’s, 4.3% at Asda and 4.5% at Morrisons.

Co-op and Iceland were down 8% and 7.9% respectively, with Waitrose down 3.4%.

Ocado remained in modest growth of 0.2%, a sharp slowdown from its two year growth rate of 35.5%.

McKevitt said households spent on average £26.07 less at supermarkets in February and own label sales did better than brands for the first time in three months.

“It’s important to flag that the drop in monthly spending isn’t all down to savvy budgeting. With the formal end to Covid restrictions in England, more of us are now eating on the go, buying sandwiches, salads and snacks on our lunch breaks, and enjoying meals out with friends and family. That means we’re buying less food and drink to have at home.”

Further evidence that shoppers are moving beyond the pandemic can be seen in online sales, down by almost 20% year on year over the past month.

Meanwhile, shopper routines were disrupted by extreme weather in the middle of the month, with a noticeable impact on shopper footfall from the storms. Kantar recorded nearly 7 million fewer shopping trips during the week ending 20 February compared with our expectations for this time of year.

On inflation, Kantar said prices are rising fastest in markets such as savoury snacks, fresh beef and cat food, while falling in bacon, beer and lager, and spirits.

Morning update

Poundland has this morning completed the purchase of online discount retail business,

The acquisition of for an undisclosed sum “will provide the infrastructure to power a national roll-out of its own pilot ecommerce operation”.

Founded in 2014, has grown to be the UK’s largest online-only value retailer. has almost 400,000 customers across the UK and 65 colleagues at its distribution centre and head office in Wednesbury, West Midlands, just a few miles from Poundland’s own customer support centre in Walsall. chairman Steve Smith and CEO Chris Maddox will act in an advisory capacity to help smooth the integration which will be led by Poundland retail and transformation director Austin Cooke who in turn will lead the day-to-day operation of Poundland’s online business.

The deal includes’s intellectual property, its online platform, the picking and fulfilment operations in Wednesbury and its customer database.

Poundland will retain all of the current colleagues and during the integration process will continue fulfilling customers’ orders as normal.

Poundland plans to build on the experience of to develop further and scale up its own online operation which has started as a pilot in selected postcodes in Birmingham and Walsall and has now been successfully extended across the Midlands and into South Yorkshire.

Helped by this acquisition, Poundland plans to widen its online offer, both in terms of ranges, adding PEP&CO clothing and homewares, and geographically, including extending beyond the UK and offering a Dealz online service for The Republic of Ireland.

Barry Williams, Poundland managing director, said: “It’s great to warmly welcome the team to Poundland. This acquisition puts power and pace behind our aspirations to make our amazing products and value available to customers across the UK and Ireland, however they choose to shop.”

Elsewhere, HelloFresh posted 61.5% full year growth to hit revenues of €6bn in 2021, at the upper end of its previously revised revenue growth guidance.

Growth was driven by ongoing customer growth in both operating segments (the US segment and the International segment), as well as continued high order rates and meals per order.

On an adjusted EBITDA basis, HelloFresh reached €527.6 million for the year, with an adjusted EBITDA margin for the FY 2021 at 8.8% on group level despite meaningful investments into its growth, including the acquisition of Youfoodz in Australia, the launch of Norway, Italy and Japan, as well as a number of new production facilities across multiple geographies.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, HelloFresh saw ongoing customer growth across both segments (US and International), reaching a total of 7.2 million active customers and its highest ever quarterly revenue of €1.58bn. In addition to the group’s order rates remaining strong and ahead of pre-pandemic levels, the average order value continued to increase.

“2021 has been another year of successful growth and expansion for HelloFresh. We delivered very meaningful growth across both segments, despite a tough benchmark, given that 2020 was an unprecedented year of lockdowns”, said Dominik Richter, co-founder and CEO of HelloFresh.

“Over the course of 2021 we have made significant progress in ramping up our production capacity and infrastructure globally, while launching Norway, Italy and Japan as new markets, bringing Green Chef as an additional brand to the UK market, extending our HelloFresh Market offering of high quality curated add-ons to the US and acquiring Youfoodz in Australia. We are laying the foundations for reaching our mid-term targets and charging towards becoming the world’s leading integrated food solutions group.”

HelloFresh said it will continue its strong investment into its long term growth capabilities, most notably the ongoing build out of its fulfilment infrastructure, and the strengthening of its tech and data platform.

The company also pledged to continue to pursue and scale new geographies and brands in line with its long term growth strategy.

Against this background, the company expects revenue growth on a constant currency basis between 20% and 26% and an adjusted EBITDA for the for the full year 2022 between €500m-€580m.

Finally this morning, English Wines producer Chapel Down has appointed Robert Smith as chief financial officer.

He will join from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where most recently he has led the UK & EMEA Finance Transformation practice and has had a number of senior leadership roles spanning a 13 year period as a partner.

Chapel Down said Smith is well placed to lead its finance team, including the transformational work on the delivery of its future investment in a new winery and vineyards, the management of its future capital strategy and investor relationships and partnering with the CEO on future industry growth opportunities.

He will commence his role on 1 September 2022 and in order to ensure a complete handover through the summer of 2022, Richard Woodhouse, current CFO and chief operating officer will remain in position until the end of August 2022.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is back up 0.2% to 7,469.1pts.

Early risers include McColl’s, up 5% to 2.5p after yesterday’s share price collapse, Greggs, up 2.3% to 2,634p and McBride, up 2.3% to 45.5p.

Fallers include Deliveroo, down 4.8% to 122.7p, Coca-Cola HBC, down 4.7% to 1,814p and THG, down 4.4% to 102.3p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 fell back 0.4% yesterday to 7,458.2pts, but largely held on to Friday’s gain’s after Thursday’s market crash amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

McColl’s collapsed by 66.4% back to just 2.4p amid news that it is in is talks with lenders as the c-store chain seeks to raise fresh capital to prevent it falling into administration.

Coca-Cola HBC, of which Russia and Ukraine are key territories for the Coke bottler, fell 10.9% to 1,904p on the escalating crisis.

Other fallers included Virgin Wines, down 6.2% to 136p, Parsley Box, down 3.4% to 28.5p, McBride, down 3.3% to 44.5p, PayPoint, down 3.1% to 597p, Imperial Brands, down 2.6% to 1,639p, DS Smith, down 2.6% to 344.6p and British American Tobacco, down 2.5% to 3,261.5p.

The day’s risers included Just Eat, up 8.1% to 3027p, Deliveroo, up 7.4% to 128.9p, THG, up 5.6% to 107p, B&M European Value Retail, up 4.1% to 605.4p, AG Barr, up 3.7% to 517p, Naked Wines, up 3.1% to 422.5p, Ocado, up 2.9% to 1,373p and Finsbury Food Group, up 2.9% to 89p.