'˜Pensions will be safe' says Sainsbury's boss

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

Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe

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.”

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

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.

What does the proposed merger of Asda and Sainsbury's mean for the public?

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 £261m, with the deficit falling by £589m since March last year.

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

The proposed merger saw Sainsbury’s share price surge but has been met with concern over the potential closure of scores of Asda stores which regulator the CMA may require in order to give the deal the green light.