• First quarter like-for-like sales growth of 6.1%.
  • Customer numbers and average spend both growing.
  • Reformatted stores showing double-digit sales increases
  • New concept stores trading above expectations.
  • ‘Biggest Savings Ever’ campaign launched this week, giving customers an extra £120 million of savings.

Chairman’s Comments:

David Webster, Chairman, will make the following comments about trading in his address to shareholders later today at the Safeway plc 2001 Annual General Meeting:-

‘Having completed Safeway’s turnaround, we have now begun the second phase of our strategy. This three-year programme to reformat our stores and upgrade our product ranges has started well and I am pleased to be able to tell you that trading in the first quarter of this financial year continues to be strong. Like-for-like sales increased by 6.1% in the twelve weeks ended 23 June, driven by a combination of rising customer numbers and average spend, and representing the seventh consecutive quarter in which growth has exceeded 5%. Total sales grew by 6.3%, reflecting the fact that no new stores were opened last year.

Our new formats are performing very well, with refitted stores continuing to achieve double-digit sales gains and improved product mix. Wimbledon and Woking, our two recently opened new concept stores for supermarkets and superstores respectively, are trading above expectations and have been enthusiastically received by shoppers. Our first hypermarket, which will open in Plymstock, Plymouth later this year, will represent our most innovative concept yet, combining the outstanding fresh foods assortment and presentation of our other formats, with a new and attractive non-food range, all at very competitive prices. We are also developing a new low cost fresh food supermarket format, which will be tested later this year.

Our programme of store remodels and extensions, which will introduce these industry-leading formats to over 100 stores this year, and adapt them to the needs of local markets, is gathering pace. We are confident that this programme will deliver both sustained growth and excellent returns.’

Chief Executive’s Comments:

Carlos Criado-Perez, Chief Executive, will also make the following comments:-

‘We have made a strong start to the year, our new format stores are performing well, we are making great progress with our ranges, particularly in fresh foods and we are accelerating our investment in reducing prices. Today we are announcing even more investment behind our outstanding offers with our ‘Biggest Savings Ever’ campaign, which will give Safeway customers another £120 million of savings a year. This is a budgeted investment, paid for by our continued strong sales, improving sales mix and planned effectiveness savings, which will make Safeway’s shopping basket even cheaper.’