Belfast Telegraph

Sainsbury's £46m bill for failed merger with Asda hits profit

Supermarket Sainsbury's, which has 14 stores in Northern Ireland, has notched up a rise in annual underlying profits but saw hefty charges, including a £46m hit from its failed bid to merge with Asda, knock its bottom line. (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Supermarket Sainsbury's, which has 14 stores in Northern Ireland, has notched up a rise in annual underlying profits but saw hefty charges, including a £46m hit from its failed bid to merge with Asda, knock its bottom line. (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Holly Williams

Supermarket Sainsbury's, which has 14 stores in Northern Ireland, has notched up a rise in annual underlying profits but saw hefty charges, including a £46m hit from its failed bid to merge with Asda, knock its bottom line.

The chain reported a 7.8% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £635m for the year to March 9.

But statutory after-tax profits plunged to £219m from £309m the previous year, weighed down by £396m of charges, including £46m in costs for the ill-fated Asda deal.

Sainsbury's also revealed a 0.9% fall in like-for-like sales in the final three months of its financial year after grocery and clothing trading suffered.

The figures come after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last week blocked Sainsbury's audacious £12bn bid to merge with its rival, saying it would lead to increased prices with shoppers left "worse off" and quality affected.

Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe pledged to ramp up investment in the group amid "competitive" conditions.

He said: "We will increase and accelerate investment in the core business, investing to improve over 400 supermarkets this year.

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"I am confident in our strategy and also clear on what we need to do to continue to evolve the business in a highly competitive market where shopping habits continue to change."

Sainsbury's also warned over a "very promotional" market and said the "consumer outlook continues to be uncertain".

Its full-year like-for-like sales performance was left 0.2% lower after a difficult second half for the group.

Following the results, Mr Coupe added that the group was now "drawing a line under the past" following the verdict on the merger plans.

He said: "It feels like ancient history because it was very clear in February that (the CMA) weren't going to allow it to happen. For the last couple of months we have been focused on driving our business for the future."

Mr Coupe insisted that he was "planning to stay" at the chain, adding that he had the full support of the board and major shareholders.

In the most recent Kantar NI Supermarket Share survey, Sainsbury's was listed as the second biggest grocery retailer here, with a market share of 17.3%.

Belfast Telegraph

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