Sainsbury’s CEO Dismisses Profiteering Claims, Affirms Commitment to Consumers

26 May 2023

Simon Roberts emphasizes Sainsbury’s efforts to battle inflation and keep prices low

Simon Roberts, the CEO of Sainsbury’s, has firmly refuted accusations that supermarkets are using high rates of inflation to generate higher profits. In an interview with the BBC, Roberts stated that Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second-largest supermarket chain, has not engaged in profiteering. Critics have coined the term “greedflation” to describe the alleged practice of raising prices to bolster profits.

With the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) scrutinizing the grocery market’s operations and politicians calling for action on food prices, clarity on pricing strategies has become increasingly important. However, Roberts affirmed that Sainsbury’s, along with other grocery chains, has invested in battling inflation and has made conscious decisions to minimize the impact of rising costs on consumers.

“Our year-on-year profit was lower because we made deliberate choices to keep prices as low as possible,” Roberts explained. In the fiscal year ending in March, Sainsbury’s recorded £690 million in pre-tax profit, a decline from the previous year’s £730 million.

While general inflation has decreased to 8.7% and energy prices, along with some wholesale food prices, have started to retreat, food price inflation remains persistently high at 19%. This has prompted calls for greater transparency in the setting of food prices.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a rebound in retail sales volumes in April, following a dampened trading performance in March due to adverse weather conditions. According to the ONS, sales volumes increased by 0.5% last month, with supermarkets experiencing higher sales. However, the figures also reveal the impact of higher prices over the past year, as consumers purchased fewer items while spending more money. Sales volumes in April were 3% lower than the corresponding period in the previous year, while total expenditure by shoppers increased by 4.7%.

Roberts’s statement reinforces Sainsbury’s commitment to maintaining competitive pricing and prioritizing consumer affordability in the face of inflationary pressures. The ongoing scrutiny from regulatory bodies and public demand for fair pricing practices will likely continue to shape the landscape of the grocery market.

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