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Retail

Sainsbury's CEO Coupe Says He's 'Not Going Anywhere'

Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe said on Wednesday he is not going anywhere, after the UK's Competition and Markets Authority regulator blocked the group's plan to acquire rival Asda.

Asked by BBC radio if he should stay at the company after the competition regulator rejected his flagship plan, he replied: "I'm sticking to the company, I'm very proud of the organisation I run."

Sainsbury's, chastened by the blocking of its takeover of rival supermarket group Asda, said it would accelerate investment in its store estate and technology as it seeks to redress a decline in underlying sales.

Sainsbury's will invest to improve more than 400 of its supermarkets this year, plans to reduce net debt by at least £600 million (€697 million) over the next three years, and would maintain its dividend policy.

'Competitive Market'

"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," said Coupe.

Sainsbury's fourth quarter to March 9 like-for-like sales fell 0.9%, having fallen 1.1% over the Christmas period. They fell 0.2% over the full 2018-19 year.

Underlying pretax profit for the year did, however, rise by a better-than-expected 7.8% to 635 million pounds helped by synergies from the Argos general merchandise business it purchased in 2016, and the total dividend increased 7.8% to 11.0 pence.

"Retail markets are highly competitive and very promotional and the consumer outlook continues to be uncertain," Sainsbury's said.

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

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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