Sainsbury’s looks North for more openings

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SAINSBURY’S is on the hunt for more sites in Yorkshire following the outperformance of its new Northern stores over the past six months.

Speaking at the group’s half year results yesterday, chief executive Justin King, pictured, said: “The openings we’ve been most pleased with are in the North. Many towns have greeted us very enthusiastically. Over half of the postcodes in the UK are dominated by one retailer.”

The supermarket chain, which announced a 6.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £354m in the six months to October 1, said feedback from its Wakefield customers had persuaded it to re-open its Ings Road store next month.

The store was closed last year following the opening of the nearby Trinity Walk store, but customers demanded it be re-opened.

Sainsbury’s has planning consent for new stores in Bingley, Sheffield and Whitby and aims to open new Local stores in cities and large towns where it doesn’t already have a presence. Targets include York, Harrogate, Halifax, Leeds and Bradford.

Sainsbury’s reported a 7.6 per cent increase in sales to £12.8bn as customer visits to its stores rose by nearly one million to almost 22 million a week.

It said initiatives such as the ‘Live Well for Less’ and ‘Feed your Family for £50’ weekly meal planner are paying off.

Its like-for-like sales including VAT rose 1.9 per cent, well below the rate of inflation as households manage down their spending and stores compete for business.

Sainsbury’s is rolling out its Brand Match scheme in response to Tesco’s £500m Big Price Drop campaign on 3,000 staple items. Leeds-based Asda has also been offering customers £5 off their next shop when they spend £40.

Mr King said shoppers are “under tremendous pressure”.