Sainsbury’s escalates Aldi price war amid ‘challenging’ year for shoppers

Sainsbury’s said annual profits would be £60m higher than predicted following better than expected food and sales over the festive period, boosted by record sales of champagne. 

The grocer posted a 0.8pc increase in grocery sales in the six weeks to Jan 8 compared with a year earlier as looser restrictions allowed families to socialise more freely.

However, total sales fell 2.4pc as its general merchandise division, which includes Argos sales, was hit by global supply chain disruption affecting electronics, toys and games. Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, dropped by 4.5pc in the 16 weeks to Jan 8. 

Mr Roberts said: “We couldn’t get the availability we wanted, but it got a bit better towards Christmas. I wouldn’t call this [supply chain disruption] as being over, we expect it to continue, but we expect improvements.”

Zoe Mills, retail analyst at GlobalData, said: “While Sainsbury’s focus in its food proposition during the pandemic has been apt as consumers face rising prices elsewhere, more attention must be given to its non-food proposition this year.” 

Sainsbury’s now expects to make underlying profits of £720m for the year, up from previous estimates of £660m. 

Shares closed 3.3pc higher at 288.4p.

Separately, JD Sports, which also upgraded profits after a surge in demand for athleisure and trainers, vowed to keep a lid on prices in the face of rising inflation across the economy. 

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, said: “We will price our goods in accordance with prices that we are charged by suppliers and that varies, but we have no intention of profiteering from inflation.”

The group said “positive” recent sales demand means it is now expecting to post pre-tax profit of at least £875m for the year to January 29, upgrading its previous target of £810m.

Sales in the 22 weeks to January 1 were up 10pc on the same period in 2020, the company said.

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