Australia's largest retailer, Coles Myer, today (23 May) announced third quarter sales of AUD$9.1bn (US$753.94m), an increase of 4.9% for the 13 weeks ended 30 April 2006.

Food and liquor sales increased by 3.9% while non-food sales were up 2.4%.

"The sales trend improved across our biggest divisions during the quarter," CEO John Fletcher said.

"In our Food and Liquor business, customers are responding positively to marketing and customer service initiatives, including our reinforced value offer. In non-food, Myer and Target produced strong results while Kmart's performance also improved significantly as customers adjusted to changes to the product and promotional mix designed to enhance the quality of sales."

The retail group reiterated its earnings guidance, predicting full-year guidance of AUD$785m, adding that it will commence an off-market share buy-back, which is expected to result in around AUD$600m being bought.

Coles Myer added that it will continue to review its capital requirements on an ongoing basis and will consider future initiatives to return surplus capital to shareholders.