News dalla rete ITA

25 Febbraio 2021

Australia

GDO: COLES CEO WARNS OF RETAIL RECKONING

Coles boss Steven Cain says supermarket retailers and other winners from the pandemic face a reckoning in coming months as they cycle sales and profits inflated by pantry stuffing, the shift to working from home and international travel bans. Longer-term, the food and grocery sector might struggle to achieve the sales growth it once enjoyed because immigration, which historically generated a third of annual growth, was likely to remain low. Coles delivered strong December-half profit growth, with net profit rising 14.5 per cent to $560 million, but Mr Cain warned that sales and earnings would come under pressure in the June half as demand moderated, the retailer lapped strong sales achieved last year, and stimulus wore off. Coles’ same-store supermarket sales rose by just 3.3 per cent in January and February compared with 5 per cent growth in the December quarter and 9.7 per cent in the September quarter. Supermarket sales could fall over the next few months and into 2022, Mr Cain said, as Coles lapped the 20 to 30 per cent sales spike during the panic-hoarding phase in March and April last year and 10 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2021. Despite the cautious outlook, Mr Cain said Coles was in better shape than it was pre-pandemic and some COVID-19 headwinds, including the consumer shift to small stores such as Metcash’s IGA network, would reverse as the vaccine was rolled. Coles delivered its first profit growth in four years last year, after higher-than-normal spending on food and liquor offset COVID-related costs, and analysts were forecasting 4 per cent net profit growth for the year. After outperforming Woolworths at the start of the pandemic, analysts say Coles appears to be losing market share, partly because it has more stores in Victoria, whose economy has been hardest hit by the pandemic, and partly because its online business is not as developed as that at Woolworths. Victoria, which had been a major beneficiary of immigration in the past, had seen soft trading in recent weeks as Victorians travelled interstate and moved out of Melbourne to rural areas. The shift to online shopping during the pandemic was likely to prevail, justifying Coles’ investment in two Ocado-operated automated fulfilment centres which are now under construction and which are expected to open in 2023. Coles’ online sales rose 57 per cent in the September quarter and 48 per cent in the December-half but growth slowed to 37 per cent in January and February. Coles launched 90-minute click and collect and last November it unveiled a new subscription-based free delivery service, Coles Plus. The retailer plans to invest $1.1 billion in gross capex this year – $100 million more than initially planned – spending on store renewals, online and supply chain. (ICE SYDNEY)


Fonte notizia: AFR 17.02.2021