Sainsbury’s suffers £72m pre-tax loss as restructuring takes effect

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has reported a pre-tax loss of £72m as it restructures its stores and invests in digital

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has reported a pre-tax loss of £72m for its financial year ending 14 March 2015.

The firm also announced a pre-tax profit of £681m, a 14.7% drop from £798m in the previous financial year.

Despite these figures, sales did not appear to suffer too greatly, with retail sales excluding fuel only dropping by 0.2%.

The firm’s online offering, meanwhile, saw continued growth, with orders up by 13% from the year before. This follows the firm's development of its click-and-collect service, as well as better delivery slots and online clothes shopping.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said: “The UK marketplace is changing faster than at any time in the past 30 years, which has impacted our profits, like-for-like sales and market share.

“However, we are making good progress with our strategy, and our investment in price and quality is showing encouraging early signs of volume and transaction growth.”

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In its financial statement the firm cited its efforts to improve customer service, with an emphasis placed on making Sainsbury’s a brand that knows what its customers want.

As part of this initiative the company highlighted that one in 12 of its staff are dedicated to its online operation, to support the changing demands of consumers.

It also highlighted its programme announced in March 2015, which includes the creation of 480 digital specialist roles to further develop systems that will help the supermarket to stay ahead of its competitors in the changing retail market.

But these initiatives are not without sacrifices, as the firm also pointed out the recent plans for store restructuring, announced in April 2015, will lead to a reduction of approximately 800 roles.

These efforts are part of its ongoing plans to reduce unused space in its locations to reduce costs and maintain its competitive advantage. One of its strategies for using empty space is its partnership with Argos to bring digital kiosks into Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

“We also have significant opportunities to grow our business," said Coupe. "Clothing, general merchandise and financial services have all performed well over the past 12 months, as have our convenience and online channels. We have a significant ambition to grow these areas over the coming years.”

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