The chief executive of Sainsbury's, Simon Roberts, has declined to comment on the fevered takeover activity gripping his sector, saying the UK supermarket chain was focused on delivering its strategy.
"I'm not going to speculate on the wider sector," Roberts told reporters, following the publication of the group's first-quarter results.
Asked if Sainsbury's had received any approaches, Roberts added, "If we had anything to update on, we'd be updating on it, so we've nothing to update you on."
Shares in Sainsbury's are up 23% so far this year, buoyed by bid speculation after Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky raised his stake to just under 10% and rival Morrisons received takeover offers.
Separately, analyst Chris Elliott of Edge By Ascential, has suggested that Sainsbury's could be a potential target for online giant Amazon.
Sainsbury's beat expectations for first-quarter sales, however growth did slow sharply, reflecting a tough comparison with the first quarter of last year, which coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group said like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 1.6% in the 16 weeks to June 26, its fiscal first quarter – compared to analysts' average forecast of a fall of 1.7% and a rise of 11.3% in the previous quarter.
Sainsbury's said sales of grocery, general merchandise and clothing were all higher than its expectations throughout the quarter. It said it outperformed competitors and grew market share.
It said it had further tough comparables ahead as pandemic restrictions continue to ease and customer behaviour normalises.
Previously, Sainsbury's reported a 39% drop in underlying profit in its 2020/21 full-year, citing additional costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
'Good Momentum' In The Business
“We continue to make good progress against our plan to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s and have good momentum within the business," said Roberts.
"Our colleagues are doing a brilliant job of giving great customer service and continuing to adapt as restrictions ease and shopping habits change. Over the coming months we expect to see customer shopping patterns normalise further and we are well set up to serve them however they want to shop."
Sainsbury's said it expected to report underlying profit before tax of at least £660 million in the 2021-22 year, up from £356 million in 2020-21.
News by Reuters, edited by ESM. For more Retail news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.