COLES CEO SAYS HOLIDAYS CRUCIAL TO OVERALL COMPANY RESULTS

SYDNEY, Australia -- Coles supermarkets continued to put on a strong performance in the first quarter of the year, boosting sales 7.4% to $1.8 billion.Dennis Eck, Coles chief executive officer, noted the six weeks leading up to Christmas will be crucial for the company's overall performance. "This is when our money gets made," he told reporters after releasing the results."The company remains highly

SYDNEY, Australia -- Coles supermarkets continued to put on a strong performance in the first quarter of the year, boosting sales 7.4% to $1.8 billion.

Dennis Eck, Coles chief executive officer, noted the six weeks leading up to Christmas will be crucial for the company's overall performance. "This is when our money gets made," he told reporters after releasing the results.

"The company remains highly focused on cost efficiencies which should allow margins to be maintained for the full year," he said.

"We have a positive view of our management's ability to remain market competitive and deliver a solid result," he added, noting that most shoppers were now in the "settling in" period after the introduction of the country's new goods and services tax, a string of interest rate rises and the Olympic games.

However, he said he would not make any forecasts about the Christmas retail environment until the end of the November.