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Sainsbury's Warns of Uncertain Consumer Outlook and Competitive Q4

Sainsbury's King's Lynn Christmas Tree 725 x 500

Sainsbury’s has reported on trading for the six months ended 22nd September, announcing that half-year sales and profits had risen, helped by the delivery of 'significant Argos synergies'.

Operational Highlights

  • Underlying profit growth of £51 million driven by Argos synergies, delivered ahead of schedule
  • Food and general merchandise sales benefited from the hot summer; grocery sales grew 1.2 per cent and general merchandise sales grew 1.5 per cent, with total food transactions up 0.6 per cent, outperforming the market1
  • Continued pressure on general merchandise margins
  • Clothing sales declined 1 per cent due to changes in promotional phasing
  • Groceries Online grew nearly 7 per cent and Convenience grew over 4 per cent
  • We have transformed the way we run Sainsbury’s stores, fundamentally changing how our 135,000 managers and colleagues work. The new, leaner management structure creates significant savings which we have reinvested into colleague pay. We now have one fair, consistent and more flexible contract for all Sainsbury’s store colleagues and pay them a market leading rate of £9.20 per hour
  • We are maximising the productivity of our supermarket space. Adding Argos stores in Sainsbury’s and repurposing our food space in a number of our stores is driving an increase in trading intensity2
  • We opened 60 Argos stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets in the half, bringing the total to 251 and they continue to trade well. We also have 233 order collection points in supermarkets and convenience stores
  • During the half we delivered Argos EBITDA synergies of £63 million (£58 million EBIT), bringing the cumulative total to £150 million EBITDA
  • Since the half year we have realised the £160 million Argos EBITDA synergy target, nine months ahead of the original schedule

Financial Highlights

  • Group sales of £16,884 million, up 3.5 per cent
  • Retail sales (excluding fuel) up 1.2 per cent
  • Like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) up 0.6 per cent
  • Underlying profit before tax growth of 20 per cent, from £251million to £302 million
  • Profit after tax of £144 million, down 13 per cent from £166 million, reflecting further non-underlying charges relating to restructuring our store management teams, Argos integration, Sainsbury’s Bank transition and the proposed combination with Asda
  • Bank profits down 53 per cent to £16 million, in line with full year guidance
  • Cost savings of £121 million
  • Underlying earnings per share up 18 per cent to 10.3 pence
  • Retail free cash flow of £619 million, up £183 million year-on-year due to strong cash generation and timing of bank capital injections
  • Net debt was down £530 million to £834 million, in part reflecting phasing benefits which will reverse in the second half. We continue to expect year end net debt before fair value movements on derivatives to reduce by around £100 million from the March 2018 position of £1,364 million
  • Interim dividend of 3.1 pence per share, in line with our policy of paying 30 per cent of prior full year dividend
<th> </th><th>28 weeks to 
22 September 2018</th><th>28 weeks to 
23 September 2017</th><th>Variance</th><th colspan="4">Business Performance</th><th>Underlying Group sales (inc. VAT)3</th><th>Like-for-Like sales (inc. VAT, exc. fuel)</th><th>Underlying profit before tax3</th><th>Underlying basic earnings per share3</th><th>Net debt</th><th>Return on capital employed3</th><th>Interim dividend</th><th colspan="4">Statutory Reporting</th><th>Group sales (exc. VAT, inc. fuel)</th><th>Items excluded from underlying results</th><th>Profit before tax</th><th>Profit for the financial period</th><th>Basic earnings per share</th>

Commenting on the Interim Results 2018, Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s Group Chief Executive, said:

“The market remains very competitive and we are transforming our business to meet rapidly changing customer needs. We have fundamentally changed how our 135,000 Sainsbury’s store managers and colleagues work and I would like to thank them for their ongoing hard work through this period.

“We have delivered a solid first half performance and profit has increased because we have delivered significant Argos synergies ahead of schedule. Sales of food and general merchandise were boosted by the hot summer, but general merchandise margins remain under pressure.

“Our strategy of offering customers a distinctive range of high quality and great value food has driven like-for-like sales growth at Sainsbury’s. Where we have invested to lower prices, volumes and transactions have increased.

“Our proposed combination with Asda will create a dynamic new player in UK retail, with the ability to further lower prices and to reduce the cost of living for millions of UK households. The Competition and Markets Authority is conducting its in-depth Phase Two review into the proposed combination and we continue to engage constructively with the CMA and Panel.”


The consumer outlook is uncertain as we head into our key trading period. The grocery, general merchandise and clothing markets continue to be highly competitive and very promotional. However, we remain on track to deliver current market consensus for 2018/19 UPBT of £634 million.

Source : Insight DIY Team and Sainsbury's

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08 November 2018

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