The West

UPDATE 1.45pm: Wesfarmers has overcome tough times in the retail world and lifted its first quarter sales.

The owner of Coles, Target and Kmart achieved sales growth across each of its businesses between late June and late September.

Total sales at supermarket chain Coles were up 4.2 per cent to $8.4 billion on the corresponding period last year, with food and liquor sales rising 4.9 per cent to $6.6 billion.

On a comparable basis, which strips out the effects of new stores, food and liquor sales rose 3.7 per cent.

"Pleasing transaction and volume growth was achieved in the period, ahead of sales growth, as Coles continued its focus on improving product quality, service and value," managing director Richard Goyder said in a statement.

Coles recorded price falls of 3.2 per cent during the quarter as its battle to lure customers away from rival Woolworths continued.

While Coles had recorded food and liquor price deflation for 12 of the last 13 quarters, that trend could be coming to an end, Coles managing director Ian McLeod said.

"However, with rising fresh produce prices this is expected to moderate through the course of the year," he said.

The lower prices appeared to be attracting more customers to Coles, with more than three million extra transactions a week compared to four years ago, he added.

While fruit and vegetable sales volumes were strong during the quarter, liquor sales remained a drag on growth.

Wesfarmers owns the First Choice, Vintage Cellars and Liquorland chains.

Total sales at the Coles Express convenience store chain, including fuel, rose 1.9 per cent to $1.9 billion.

Comparable fuel volumes rose 0.4 per cent in the quarter, following record growth in the previous comparable period.

Elsewhere, the Target clothing and homewares chain lifted headline sales 2.2 per cent to $853 million.

However comparable store sales dropped 4.1 per cent, largely as a result of bringing forward the timing of Target's mid-year toy sale into June from July.

At KMart, total sales rose 3.1 per cent to $956 million, with comparable sales up 2.2 per cent, buoyed by growth in womenswear, footwear and homewares.

Wesfarmers also lifted its home improvement and office supplies sales, through the Bunnings and Office Works chains, by 4.7 per cent to $1.8 billion.

Wesfarmers shares closed down three cents at $34.57.

The West Australian

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