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Iceland leads retail pack as sales increase beats rivals.

FROZEN food chain Iceland heaped pressure on potential bidders yesterday by emerging as one of the winners from the industry's latest sales figures.

Revenues at Deeside-based Iceland increased 5.7% in the 12 weeks to May 16, beating the grocery market as a whole, which saw growth of 4.8%, according to figures released by Kantar Worldpanel.

Morrisons, the UK's fourth largest supermarket, is understood to be mulling a pounds 1.5bn for the chain, but the strong performance could entice it, or other potential bidders, to pay more.

Iceland counts for 1.9% of the grocery market. The figures also reveal that discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl saw their sales grow by 15.4% and 16.1% respectively, as cash-strapped shoppers continued to tighten their belts in the face of soaring inflation, tax hikes and spending cuts. German chain Aldi now has a record 3.4% of food and drink sales. The grocery market, which had seen sales growth of just 2.6% in the 12 weeks to March 20, was boosted by recent hot weather, the Royal Wedding and Easter, said Kantar. Sales were up 7.8% in the four weeks to May 15.

Edward Garner, communications director at Kantar, said: "A rising tide lifts all boats and the top retailers performed well this month buoyed by the lifted market growth rate."

Waitrose was among the top performers, with sales up 8.8%, increasing its market share to 4.3% from 4.1%.

Supermarket leader Tesco increased its market share to 30.7% from 30.6%.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EXIC
Date:May 25, 2011
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