Coles looks to 2022 for a return to normal

August 18, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Coles Group has reported a sales revenue increase of 3.1 per cent to $38.6b, underlying profits grew 2.8 per cent to $1 billion and for the first time, eCommerce sales for the Group exceeded $2b with growth of 52 per cent for the year.

As it emerged from Q4, and with Australia in its eleventh lockdown, Coles sales had returned to pre-Covid levels as shopping centres recovered. Even with the delta variant running rampant, CEO Steven Cain said that there is light at the end of the tunnel brought by increasing vaccination rates and the promise of a ‘return to normal’.

“In February, we said the short-term outlook would be dependent upon the efficacy and pace of the vaccination program. Six months on, government forecasts are pointing to a more normal outlook from early in calendar 2022, including the longer-term prospect of increased migration,” said Mr Cain.

Liquor sales revenue was $3.5 billion for the year, an increase of 6.6 per cent on the prior corresponding period, although liquor sales in Q4 were down 7.1 per cent when compared to the same time last year as the business cycled heightened sales growth from COVID-19 Q4 FY20 and government imposed restrictions on licensed venue operators during that time.

Coles accelerated its liquor eCommerce and omnichannel capabilities, opening three ecommerce dark stores – in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Liquor eCommerce sales grew by 79 per cent for the year with spirits and RTDs the key drivers of growth at the category level.

Significant investment has been made in streamlining the retail outlets for a cleaner look and more efficient operations and service and team capabilities have been improved and Coles plans to continue this rollout over the next financial year.

But for now, local shopping trends have re-emerged with Coles’ eCommerce and neighbourhood stores outperforming shopping centre and CBD locations. It certainly does not feel as if any return to normal is going to arrive before 2022.

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