Sainsbury’s and Next should post upbeat figures

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RETAILERS Sainsbury’s and Next should provide markets with a distraction from Wednesday’s Budget with upbeat figures this week.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is expected to reveal more sales cheer tomorrow as the chain has emerged relatively unscathed from the recent horsemeat crisis that rocked the industry.

The group has also been benefiting from its “Brand Match” scheme, while its non-food sales grew faster than grocery sales over the third quarter as clothing and small electrical products were in high demand.

Analysts at Shore Capital Stockbrokers said Sainsbury’s has even “marginally benefited from any fallout from the ‘horse-gate’ situation” and are forecasting a marked pick-up in sales growth during its fourth quarter.

Most analysts are forecasting like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, to rise by 2.3 per cent for the 10 weeks to 16 March.

Fashion chain Next has already set the scene for decent annual results on Thursday after it weathered difficult high street conditions to post a 3.9 per cent hike in festive sales.

Robust Christmas trading put it on track for profits growth at the top end of expectations, with the City pencilling in a jump of between 7.1 per cent and 9.6 per cent in pre-tax profits to between £611 million and £625m for the year to January.

Investors will be keen for news on whether sales remained robust throughout the snow in January, with some analysts believing the adverse weather may see Next post profits at the mid-range of expectations.

The new boss of high street baker Greggs will unveil his first set of annual results since taking on the top job in February after a difficult past year.

Roger Whiteside, formerly the boss of pub company Punch Taverns, takes on the reins as Greggs battles against sliding sales and rising costs of its key ingredients. Consumer belt-tightening saw half-year profits slide 4.6 per cent to £16.5m, despite its efforts to keep a lid on costs.

Analysts are expecting Wednesday’s results to show underlying pre-tax profits remaining broadly flat at £53.8m, against £53.1m in 2011. Newcastle-based Greggs, which has 1,671 shops across the UK, has already said it expects tough trading conditions to continue.

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