Coles' first-quarter sales lift

Wesfarmers-owned supermarket posts increase in total sales across food, liquor and convenience divisions.

Wesfarmers-owned (WES) Coles has increased total sales across its food, liquor and convenience divisions after improving its store network.

In a release to the Australian Securities Exchange, Wesfarmers said Coles' first quarter sales rose by 4.9% to $8.9 billion, compared with $8.49 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2013.

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said volume growth remained strong, particularly in fresh produce.

"Coles continued to offer customers better value through ongoing investment in lower prices, while making good progress in both product and store format innovation," Mr Goyder said.

The figures include food and liquor sales of $6.91 billion, a 4.4% increase from $6.62 billion in the previous corresponding period.

Wesfarmers said comparable food and liquor sales, which strip out store closures and openings, grew 3.4%.

The group recorded food and liquor price deflation of 2.5% in the quarter due to significant fresh produce deflation and the retailer's investment in lower prices.

Coles opened three supermarkets and closed three supermarkets during the quarter and expects the pace of new store openings to lift over the rest of the year. 

Wesfarmers reported total home improvement and office supplies sales of $2.37 billion in the quarter, a 9.1% lift compared with $2.17% in the previous corresponding period.

Officeworks posted transaction growth in stores and online and expanded its presence in the business to business market, while five Bunnings Warehouses and one trade centre were opened, Wesfarmers said.