Profits at Sainsbury’s rose again today as the supermarket maintained its run of success under chief executive Justin King.
It came as the retailer also announced it was taking full control of Sainsbury’s Bank in a £248 million deal to buy the 50% stake held by taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group.
Full-year results to March 16 showed underlying profits up 6.2% to £756 million, though the bottom-line pre-tax figure fell 1.4% to £788 million when property disposals were included.
Mr King, who took over at the supermarket amid sliding sales nearly a decade ago, remained bullish about its prospects despite the economic downturn.
He said: “Whilst we see no near-term change in the current economic situation, we remain confident that by continuing to invest in our long-standing strategy and by understanding and helping our customers, we are well positioned for future growth.”
Total sales rose by 4.6% to £25.6 billion, driven by 33 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth.
Sainsbury’s said it had outperformed competitors, citing figures from earlier this year which showed it had achieved 16.8% market share, its highest for a decade.
The results were boosted by what it called the “milestone” of non-food sales reaching £1 billion for the first time.
Grocery online sales were nearing the £1 billion mark, while Sainsbury’s convenience stores took £1.5 billion, the company announced. During the year, it opened 14 new supermarkets, eight extensions and 87 convenience stores.
The supermarket, which sponsored the Paralympic Games and was also involved in the events to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, said: “It has been a year like no other.”
David Tyler, chairman of Sainsbury’s, said the decision to take full ownership of Sainsbury’s Bank would “benefit both customers and shareholders and allow its full potential to be realised”.
The bank, launched in 1997, has delivered five successive years of profit growth, the company said. Profit before tax in 2012/13 was £59 million.
Mr King said: “We see a great opportunity to increase the number of bank customers by offering accessible, high- quality financial service products which reward customers who bank and shop with us.
“We expect the bank to become an important source of profit diversification and growth, building on the strengths of our core business.”