Woolworths can't catch Coles but Quantium stake starts to sizzle

By Rosie Baker | 30 April 2014
Droga5 was thought to be out shooting the latest Jamie Oliver commercial for Woolworths last week.

Coles has suffered its slowest quarterly sales growth in two years, and despite seeing growth, Woolworths failed to step ahead. However, it looks like the company's investment in data firm Quantium and sharper digital focus is starting to pay dividend.

Both supermarkets reported 3.5% sales growth during the most recent quarter. Woolworths was expected to overtake its rival.

Woolworths reported a 5.9% sales rise across the group reaching $15.192 billion, the food business accounted for $10.3bn. The Coles supermarket group reported revenues of $6.7bn for the quarter.

Online sales across the Woolworths group during the quarter increased 50% with click and collect sales - which allow shoppers to buy online but collect purchases in-store - doubling.

The lift comes almost exactly a year after Woolworths bought a 50% stake in data analytics group Quantium.

CEO Grant O’Brien praised the supermarket's insights driven marketing and loyalty initiatives for driving sales. He said: “Trading patterns and momentum for the third quarter were similar to the first half of FY14 and continue to reflect our ongoing focus on the four strategic priorities that are transforming our business for the future.

“Customer insights are enabling tailored offers and loyalty rewards based on individual shopping preferences. We continue to provide the most compelling offer to our customers by delivering unbeatable value and a shopping experience which increasingly caters for individual needs.”

Woolworths also hailed marketing across its Big W, Dan Murphy and BWS chain for helping reinforce its competitive pricing.

Coles claimed its sales slowdown was impacted by the cap on fuel discounts enforced on both supermarkets by the ACCC.

Woolworths is entering the final stages of the pitch for its $200 media account. Most of the networked media agency groups bar Mediabrands, which has Coles on its books, are vying to take the account from Carat.

The group recently appointed Leo Burnett to take over from Droga5 as lead creative agency.

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