Sainsbury's reports falling half-year profits and slowing sales growth

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Supermarket giant Sainsbury's has revealed sharply slowing sales growth and a 9% fall in half-year profits after moves to keep prices low in the face of inflation and cost pressures.

The group reported underlying pre-tax profits of £251 million for the six months to September 23, against £277 million a year earlier.

Falling sales across general merchandise and Argos saw like-for-like sales growth pull back sharply to 0.6% in the second quarter, down from 2.3% in the first three months.

Total general merchandise sales dropped 1.6% in the second quarter, the group said.

Mike Coup
Chief executive Mike Coupe said the group was on track despite a "competitive" market (Sainsbury's/PA)

Chief executive Mike Coupe said the market remained "competitive", but insisted the group was seeing "clear results" of its three-year plan.

He said: "We have delivered a good performance across the group in the last six months, with more customers choosing to shop at Sainsbury's in the first half than ever before.

"We are now three years into delivering our differentiated strategy and are seeing clear results. "

He added the group remained focused on its strategy and was on track for full-year expectations.

The figures come just a month after it announced 2,000 jobs will go, mainly from human resources and payroll staff, adding to 1,000 head office job cuts in August, as part of efforts to cut another £500 million of costs.