Belfast Telegraph

Sainsbury's suffers a drop in profits

By Jamie Stinson

The decline of the major supermarkets continued as Sainsbury's announced a drop in the profits, as shoppers turn to its discount rivals.

Like Tesco last month, Sainsbury's is seeing the effect of the supermarket price war with the discount stores, such as Lidl and Asda, as underlying profits for the six months to the end of September fell by 6.3% to £375m.

To the benefit of consumers, the battle between the supermarkets has seen prices fall by around 2.1%, and Sainsbury's will now introduce £150m of price cuts to be more competitive.

New chief executive Mike Coupe, who took over from long-term CEO Justin King this summer, said: "We have examined every aspect of our business and we have good foundations for future growth in our supermarket and convenience estates, our online and non-food businesses and in Sainsbury's Bank.

"However, we need to make sure that we are investing in the right areas, and by reducing our costs and capital expenditure we are ensuring that we have the resources to enable us to do so."

Sainsbury's will also scrap the opening of around 40 stores which were due to be built, to the loss of £290m. The supermarket could not confirm whether any of these would be in Northern Ireland.

Sainsbury's sales growth in the province has started to suffer, according to research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The supermarket's market share fell from 18.6% in 2012 to 18% this year, with Asda now snapping at its heels to become Northern Ireland's second biggest supermarket behind Tesco, as the Walmart-owned chain's market share rose to 17.1%.

The supermarket, which employs over 3,000 people across its 13 stores in the province, has yet to open any of its smaller Sainsbury's Local stores. Sales in its convenience stores rose by 17% to over £1bn, and the supermarket will now open around 100 of the convenience shops per year, but none of these will be in Northern Ireland.

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