Coles owner Wesfarmers has reported strong earnings growth for its retail portfolio for the year ended 30 June at its 2015 full-year results, which were announced on Thursday, 20 August 2015. Coles food and liquor sales growth was 5.3% to $30.784 billion, with comparative (like-for-like) store sales growth of 3.9%.

There was a solid performance from the convenience business, despite lower fuel volumes. Coles said that it plans bigger convenience stores and improved forecourt layouts after “accelerating growth in convenience and strong network growth” in FY2015.

Managing director Richard Goyder said that in a competitive supermarket sector, Coles’ improved sales momentum was a good result.

“Operational efficiencies supported further investment in lower prices, which resulted in growth in customer transactions, basket size and sales density,” he said.

“Investment in the fresh supply chain and building long-term supplier relationships remained key initiatives during the year, resulting in increased fresh produce participation as customers responded positively to improvements in product quality, value and availability.”

Coles said that while the liquor business produced relatively flat earnings growth, there were encouraging customer responses to early transformation work.

Total Petrol and Convenience sales fell by 9.2% compared with 2014 to $7.417 billion on lower fuel volumes that fell 3.7% over 2014, while “total store sales growth” was 9.8%.

A better convenience store offer allowed strong convenience store sales growth including increased value with more Coles house brand products, $2 value range and ‘Everyday’ prices, Expresso-to-Go coffee rollout completed with a frozen range in trial, and opportunities to expand its exclusive range and Food-to-Go.

For the year to 30 June 2015, 22 new P&C sites opened and two closed for a net total of 662 stores.

This story first appeared in Convenience and Impulse Retailing