Superstore giant Sainsbury’s applauded the sales growth, but Covid costs were high and the group recorded a pre-tax loss of £ 261million in a full year.
The grocer is one of the chains that saw high demand during the pandemic. It has been allowed to keep stores open for the past year, while non-essential retailers have had to temporarily close at various locations.
Comparable sales, excluding fuel, jumped 8.1% in the year through March 6, and digital sales more than doubled.
But Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said: “This year’s financial results have been heavily influenced by the pandemic. Sales of food and Argos are significantly higher, but the cost of protecting colleagues and customers during the pandemic has been high. “
There were costs covering factors like PPE and an increase in staff absences, as the retailer paid people to stay home when needed. Underlying profit before tax fell 39% to £ 356million. It also reimbursed the tariff relief to businesses.
A total loss before tax of £ 261 million was recorded, down from a profit of £ 255 million. This was linked to the costs of a restructuring announced last year that includes the closure of a number of Argos stores and meat and deli counters.
Roberts said: “Like our clients, we all look forward to things feeling more normal over the next few months and excited about a festive summer, but we are also cautious about the outlook. economic. “
The company said it has maintained good underlying business momentum in the new fiscal year and has started the year strong.
It expects underlying pre-tax profit in the year to March 2022 to exceed that reported in the year to March 2020.