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Can Sainsbury’s recover from its Asda disappointment?

Asda Sainsbury's merger image

The competition and markets authority blocked Sainsbury’s proposed mega-merger in April on the grounds that it would be bad for consumers and the UK-listed group’s shares fell to 20-years lows.

A 5% post-results rally is more a symptom of the chronically low share price than anything impressive in the numbers. To put it mildly, the group’s 2019 results were depressing. So can Sainsbury’s pick itself back up?

If Mike Coupe’s career highlight was reaching an agreement to merge Sainsbury’s (LON: SBRY) with rival British supermarket Asda (and we can only assume that it was after he was filmed singing “we’re in the money” before an interview on ITV news), this week’s final results announcement must have been a low point.

After admitting that the failed merger with Asda had cost the company £46m in the financial year to March 2019, Mr Coupe was forced to field questions about the long-term outlook for an Asda-less Sainsbury’s. His answer – focus on the group strategy set out in 2014 – is not satisfactory.

That’s because the strategy is now five years old and clearly hasn’t been successful in restoring the company’s fortunes. Between 2014 and 2019, underlying operating profits have fallen from £873m to £692m, while Sainsbury’s share of the UK supermarket industry has fallen faster than any of its established peers.…

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