Sainsbury’s sales continued to decline as it posted a 10.1% fall in first-half profits to £277m.
The supermarket said like-for-like sales fell 1% in the 28 weeks to 24 September, and added that while the market remains strong, “pricing pressures continue to impact margins”.
It also said the effect on retailers of the slump in sterling was “uncertain” and it is bracing for an increase in costs over the second half.
Shares in the UK’s second biggest supermarket fell more than 4% in early trading today (9November) on the FTSE 100.
Despite the fall in sales, chief executive Mike Coupe said Sainsbury’s had made “good progress” on delivering its UK strategy: “We have invested in the quality of our products while reducing prices on everyday items, delivering volume growth and outperforming the market in customer service and availability.”
Sainsbury’s saw convenience sales grow by over six per cent; this part of the business now contributes around £2.4 billion of annualised sales. The company has opened 16 new convenience stores and is trialling six Sainsbury’s Locals in a franchise partnership with Euro Garages in service stations.
Its online groceries category grew eight per cent and contributes around £1.3bn of annualised sales. A same-day groceries online delivery offer will be available from 30 stores across the country by Christmas and a one-hour delivery service is being trialled.
Although German discount chains Aldi and Lidl have expanded rapidly in the UK, undercutting Sainsbury’s and its rivals, the supermarket chain said it had fought back this year by cutting prices on its everyday products rather than run promotions.
It said: “Recognising that our customers want a clearer and simpler shopping experience, we have removed multi-buys and our Brand Match scheme and we are investing in lower regular prices.”
Last month Sainsbury’s launched a range of 120 new and revamped desserts.