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Sainsbury’s boss says Asda merger is good news for pensioners

Mike Coupe said the deal protects the long-term interests of 90,000 defined benefit pension scheme members.

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe has moved to reassure members of the grocery firm’s pension schemes over the £12 billion merger with Asda.

In response to concerns raised by Labour MP Frank Field, who chairs Parliament’s pensions committee, Mr Coupe said the deal “strengthens the pension covenant” and “protects the long-term interests of around 90,000 Sainsbury’s defined benefit pension scheme members”.

“Let me take this opportunity to reassure you that our plans take full account of our obligations to our current and former colleagues.

“This is good news for our members.”

The chief executive said Sainsbury’s has notified the Pensions Regulator of the deal with Asda and how it would impact pension scheme members, with a meeting to take place shortly.

Mr Coupe was writing in response to a letter from the veteran MP in which he asked how members of Sainsbury’s pension scheme would be protected following the deal.

Sainsbury’s total retirement benefit obligation, including Argos, stands at £261 million, with the deficit falling by £589 million since March last year.

The supermarket revealed details on Monday about its merger with Walmart-owned Asda.

The duo – the UK’s number two and three supermarkets – said the unified group would have combined revenues of £51 billion and a network of 2,800 Sainsbury’s, Asda and Argos stores.

Under the terms of the deal, Walmart would retain responsibility for Asda’s defined benefit pension scheme.

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