Sainsbury’s H1 results (to 22nd September 2018) have proclaimed underlying profit growth of £51m, driven principally by synergies with its Argos business, which were delivered ahead of schedule.

Sainsbury’s opened 60 Argos stores in supermarkets during the half, bringing the total to 251 – plus 233 order collection points in supermarkets and convenience stores. It also opened a new standalone Habitat store in London’s Westfield Shopping Centre, and implemented a leaner management structure.

Group chief executive Mike Coupe says: “The market remains very competitive and we are transforming our business to meet rapidly changing customer needs.

“We have delivered a solid H1 performance and profit has increased because we have delivered significant Argos synergies ahead of schedule. Sales of food and general merchandise were boosted by the hot summer, but general merchandise margins remain under pressure. 

“Our strategy of offering customers a distinctive range of high-quality and great-value food has driven LFL sales growth at Sainsbury’s. Where we have invested to lower prices, volumes and transactions have increased. 

“Our proposed combination with Asda will create a dynamic new player in UK retail, with the ability to further lower prices and to reduce the cost of living for millions of UK households. The Competition and Markets Authority is conducting its in-depth Phase Two review into the proposed combination and we continue to engage constructively with the CMA and Panel.”