Sainsbury’s set to report growing
profits amid a stagnant sector

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COMPETITION in the supermarket sector will be highlighted this week when Sainsbury’s and Bradford-based Morrisons post figures.

Sainsbury’s will face more questions over the future of its long-standing chief executive when it posts full-year results on Wednesday. The UK’s third-biggest supermarket is expected to report growing profits amid a stagnant grocery market – marking the ninth consecutive rise in annual profits since Justin King joined as chief executive.

But speculation is mounting over Mr King’s future after reports it has lined up headhunters to identify a replacement. While Mr King is not thought to be planning to leave in the near future, the grocer is said to have appointed headhunter firm Egon Zehnder to sound out possible candidates. Mr King was poached from Marks & Spencer in 2004 to become Sainsbury’s chief executive and has driven a turnaround of the grocer despite a cut-throat consumer market.

Struggling supermarket Morrisons’ attempts to reverse shrinking sales will be under the spotlight when it updates on first-quarter trading on Thursday. The UK’s fourth-biggest grocery chain is expanding online and opening more convenience stores in a bid to regain market share, and is thought to be close to taking its first big step into online food sales by sealing a tie-up with grocery delivery firm Ocado.

Morrisons is under pressure to halt sliding sales, which shrunk 4.1 per cent on an underlying basis in the three months to the start of February.