Fire-fighting on pricing and availability impacted on retailer's profits
Embattled supermarket group Sainsbury's has issued its second-quarter trading statement for the 16 weeks to October 9.

It showed that the grocer had increased sales, excluding petrol, by 1.5 per cent over the period, compared with a growth of 0.8 per cent in the first quarter. However, like-for-like sales dipped by 1.1 per cent.

Total figures were boosted by petrol sales, contributing to growth for the quarter of 4.4 per cent.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said: 'Total sales growth includes a contribution from both Bells Stores and Jackson's, with the like-for-like increase of 1.8 per cent reflecting the strong trading from petrol. Underlying profit before tax for the first half of 2004/2005 was impacted by the margin investment and additional costs of managing availability.'

Underlying profit before tax for the first half of the year is expected to be between£125 million and£135 million. The retailer expects the second half of the year to yield similar results.