StockMarketWire.com - Supermarket chain Saisbury's booked a 42% fall in annual profit, owing to one-off expenses including costs associated with its failed takeover bid for rival Asda.

Pre-tax profit for the year through 9 March fell to £239m, down from £409m, even as sales rose 2.1% to £32.4bn.

Sainsbury's pinned the fall on changes to pension rules, restructuring costs, improvements at Sainsbury's bank, the failed Asda deal and the integration of Argos.

Underlying pre-tax profit rose 7.8% to £635m, which the company said was ahead of target and boosted by cost savings generated by the Argos acquisition.

Sainsbury's declared a final dividend of 7.9p, up 11% on-year.

The company also said it was targeting a reduction in its net debt by at least £600m over the next three years and would invest to improve more than 400 supermarkets in the current year.

'I am confident in our strategy and also clear on what we need to do to continue to evolve the business in a highly competitive market where shopping habits continue to change,' chief executive Mike Coupe said.

Turning to the outlook, Sainsbury's said that retail markets were 'highly competitive and very promotional and the consumer outlook continues to be uncertain".

'However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy,' it added.

In the fourth quarter, like-for-like sales excluding fuel fell 0.9% on-year.





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