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End-user update: supermarkets and pubs

Sainsbury’s stands proud after Easter efforts and Punch Taverns hits the local

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s stores generated a stellar performance at Easter with market researchers TNS Worldpanel placing it top of the big four in the 12 weeks to April 19.

The grocer’s rating received another boost with result from shopping basket analysts Nielsen declaring Sainsbury’s the victor thanks to in-store offers, price cuts and shoppers trading up.

The last eight weeks have also been productive for convenience stores (3,000 sq ft and under) where sales grew 3.2 per cent year-on-year for sales of up to ten grocery items.

Separately, the rumour mill spun excitedly yesterday following the Qatar Investment Authority’s increase in Sainsbury’s shares from 27.3 per cent to 29.29 per cent

The sovereign wealth fund has been stalking the grocer for some time and launched a share offer last year only for it to fall flat in November 2008.

To counter the Qatari’s involvement news emerged that the prospects of a merger between Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer would be welcomed as it is believed Sainsbury’s would rather merge with Marks & Spencer than have new owners.

Midlands Co-op

Midlands Co-op has confirmed it has purchased four Somefield stores. The stores will close for IT refurbishment and new signage to bring them in line with the Co-operative Group banner.

The Midlands Co-op responded well to the economic downturn posting a record trading profit of £16.2m. The group increased sales by 6 per cent to £848m.

Punch Taverns

Britain’s biggest pub operator, Punch Taverns said moves to cut its debt mountain have resulted in a 7 per cent drop to £4.46bn.

The chain sold 161 pubs in its first half trading and is looking to sell between 750 and 1000 of its leased pubs and 100 managed pubs.

One beneficiary of Punch’s sales is Geronimo Inns which has taken six London pubs while Greene King’s recent £207m rights issue means it now has the funds for an expansion. The Suffolk-based brewer and pub chain says it is looking for pubs in Scotland, London and the Home Counties.

Punch Taverns’ head of the Spirit managed pubs division, Mike Tye, said he will concentrate on its 300 local pubs, and sell 100 within the division, as it seeks to realise the potential of this segment of the portfolio.

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