Sainsbury's says it plans to close around 420 standalone Argos stores by March 2024, reducing the store estate to around 100, while adding more Argos stores (+150) and collection points (+150-200) to Sainsbury’s convenience stores and superstores.
In a new strategy update, the retailer states that it is refocusing on its core food business, "putting food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s".
It also says it is expanding its ambitions for Habitat, which will become the main home and furniture brand in Argos and Sainsbury’s.
“Argos sales have been strong over the past six months and we have gained almost two million new customers as people have re-connected with Argos," says Simon Roberts, chief executive of J Sainsbury. "Over the next three years we will make Argos a simpler, more efficient and more profitable business while still offering customers great convenience and value and improving availability. We will also make Habitat more widely available in Sainsbury’s and Argos, giving customers access to stylish home and furniture products at more affordable prices."
The update also contained the retailer's interim results for the 28 weeks ended 19th September 2020.
Total retail sales were up +7.1% (excluding fuel) with LFL sales up +6.9%. Grocery sales were up +8.2% and general merchandise up +7.4%. Digital sales were up +117% to £5.8b (nearly 40% of total sales).
“Covid-19 has accelerated a number of shifts in our industry," Simon continues. "Investments over recent years in digital and technology have laid the foundations for us to flex and adapt quickly as customers needed to shop differently. Around 19% of our sales were digital this time last year and nearly 40% of our sales are digital today.
“While we are working hard to help feed the nation through the pandemic, we have also spent time thinking about how we deliver for our customers and our shareholders over the longer term."