Sainsbury’s will ‘do what we need to’ to stem falling profits


Sainsbury's chief financial officer has claimed that the business will "do what we need to" to remain competitive as ailing food sales have weighed on the supermarket's profits for the third consecutive year.

"We will remain price competitive and will do what we need to do to ensure customers get great value when they come into our stores," Kevin O'Byrne told CNBC shortly after the food retailer announced an 8.2 percent fall in pre-tax profits to £503 million ($650 million).

He said the company will remain committed to cutting food prices and removing "unnecessary tasks and activities" to deliver on the firm's £500 million cost saving program.

The full-year results mark a fall from 2016 pre-tax profits of £548 million as the retailer continues to battle to maintain its slimming share of the food retail business.

Sainsbury's shares were trading down 2.25 percent in early trading Wednesday after basic earnings per share came in at 17.5 pence versus 23.9 pence in 2016.

"Overall, as we said, the core businesses will have negative like for like and that's the underlying food business," O'Byrne explained.

O'Byrne declined to outline company's food sales, however, he said "total sales of food were up last year", which he attributed in part to an 8 percent increase in online demand.

Sainsbury's has been diversifying its business outside of food retail. Six months ago it purchased general retailer, Argos, for £1.4 billion, which it says it has been "very pleased with."

The retailer plans to build on this momentum by accelerating its rollout to Sainsbury's stores six months ahead of schedule.

O'Byrne said the purchase had delivered sales and profits "ahead of expectations", however analysts have voiced concerns that the new asset is detracting from falling food sales.

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