Sainsbury’s sees profits rise

Sainsbury’s said its efforts to help shoppers cope with tighter budgets were paying off after it reported a 6.6 per cent rise in half-year profits today.

The supermarket, which revealed a surplus of £354m for the six months to October 1, increased total sales by 7.6 per cent to £12.8bn as customer visits to its stores rose by nearly one million to almost 22 million a week.

It hailed the success of initiatives such as “Live Well for Less” and its “Feed your Family for £50” weekly meal planner and said recent investment in its food and clothing ranges was also paying off.

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Chairman David Tyler said: “We are pleased with our sales and profit performance, given the challenging economic environment.”

Figures published yesterday by research firm Kantar revealed Sainsbury’s achieved a 16.1 per cent share of the grocery market in the 12 weeks to October 30, compared with 30.5 per cent for Tesco and 17.3 per cent at Asda.

The retailer’s like-for-like sales including VAT were up 1.9 per cent in the six months to October 1, well below the rate of inflation as households manage down their spending and stores compete for business.

The latest shots in the ongoing supermarket price war saw Sainsbury’s roll out its Brand Match scheme in response to Tesco’s £500m Big Price Drop campaign on 3,000 staple items. Asda has also been offering customers £5 off their next shop when they spend £40.

Sainsbury’s said the high price of fuel continued to influence consumer spending and shopping habits.

It added: “With fuel costs representing a higher proportion of disposable income, customers are reducing what they spend on their weekly grocery shopping and are continuing to budget prudently.

“By purchasing fewer items on each shopping trip and doing more top-up shopping, customers are not only demonstrating a desire to keep a tight rein on budgets but also to reduce food waste.”

Sainsbury’s recently launched a womenswear range designed by television presenter and fashion consultant Gok Wan under the Gok for Tu brand.