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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 10:59 GMT
Sainsbury's recovery 'on track'
Sainsbury's tills
Sainsbury's says it has made "steps forward, but problems remain"
Sainsbury's has said it remains "on track" to deliver a turnaround in its fortunes after reporting a small rise in half-year profits.

The UK grocer said it made 118m ($204m) in the six months to 8 October, up from a restated 117m last year.

Like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, were up 2.1%, Sainsbury's said, adding that 15 million customers currently use its stores every week.

The company has embarked on a recovery plan aimed at regaining market share.

'Steps forward'

While the customer experience is much improved we still need to work on achieving consistency across all of our stores
Justin King, Sainsbury's chief executive

Under the new slogan "try something new today", the UK's third-biggest supermarket chain is spending 10m on revamping its image.

"We were clear last year that we needed to fix the basics of our offer for customers and we have made good steps forward," chief executive Justin King said.

Sainsbury's said the availability of products in its stores, an issue which has long troubled the company, was now at comparable levels with its main supermarket rivals.

"While the customer experience is much improved we still need to work on achieving consistency across all of our stores, and at an acceptable cost," Mr King said.

"We still have a lot of work to do behind the scenes to ensure that we remain on track".

Separately, the supermarket group said its Sainsbury's Bank financial services arm, which it jointly operates with UK bank giant HBOS, reported an operating loss of 5m in the first half of the year.

Sainsbury's said the loss reflected increased provisions for bad customer debt.

Shares in Sainsbury's were almost 2.5% lower, at 284.50 pence, in late morning trade on the London Stock Exchange.




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