Struggling supermarket firm Sainsbury's has announced what is believed to be its first ever loss.
Sainsbury's has had trouble getting the formula right
For the six months to 9 October, it has reported a pre-tax, post-exceptionals loss of £39m ($72m), compared to a profit of £323m a year earlier.
Total sales were up 3.5% to £8.348bn, but like-for-like sales excluding petrol were down 0.9%.
Sainsbury's, which last month was at the centre of takeover speculation, is struggling to turn itself around.
Excluding £168m of exceptional items, including the clearance of surplus merchandise, Sainsbury's made a pre-tax profit of £131m for the first half of its financial year.
That was down from £366m for the same time last year, but in line with the company's recent profit warning.
Its shares closed higher on Wednesday, moving up 0.84% to 271.50, with dealers saying the figures contained "few surprises".
The company added that profits for the second half of its financial year were not expected to be significantly different from the first six months, putting the full year profits estimate between £260m and £265m.
Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King recently admitted the firm had been failing to properly stock its shelves after struggling with faulty distribution systems.
A reorganisation of the business under Mr King has already cost it £400m.
However, he said the company was now aware of where it had gone wrong in the past and was working hard to try to put things right.
"We are now beginning the implementation of the plans arising from the business review to rebuild a sustainable sales led recovery," he said.
Mr King said it had re-opened one of its depots "to help improve availability and deliveries", and that "new improved products" were being added to its ranges.
"We are clear on the actions we need to take to make Sainsbury's great again," he added.
And, although underlying sales are still falling, Sainsbury's repeated its recent forecast that sales would grow over the next three years.
The company is also continuing with the recruitment of 3,000 additional store staff.
Despite issuing a profits warning last month, Sainsbury's shares have risen strongly since on speculation that former Asda boss Allan Leighton is considering a takeover bid.
Sainsbury's chairman Philip Hampton said he believed the retailer had the
building blocks in place to achieve a turnaround.
SAINSBURY'S KEY AIMS
Increase product quality
Improve product availability
"We have now embarked on a sales-led recovery, which we believe
will enable Sainsbury's to deliver long-term sustainable performance and
profit," he said.
Among planned changes, Sainsbury's is to spend at least £400m on product
quality and place more onus on fresh food and own label products, particularly
its Taste the Difference and Be Good to Yourself ranges.
Store formats will also be simplified to feature only supermarkets and
convenience stores, with Central and Savacentre outlets joining the main
Once the UK's biggest supermarket chain, Sainsbury's has since been overtaken by both Tesco and Asda.