Sainsbury's supermarket has made a full-year loss for the first time in 10 years, with new boss Mike Coupe warning that the UK marketplace was changing faster than "at any time in the past 30 years."
The retailer reported a £72m loss in the year to March, with underlying pre-tax profits falling 14.7% to £681m, compared with £798m the year before.
The retailer was hit by a number of one-off costs, including a write down in the value of some of its stores, and its share price fell 1.3% in early morning trading.
While like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, fell 1.9%, mainly due to competition in the food category from discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl, the company said sales of general merchandise, which includes books, rose 7% in the year to 14th March 2015, although from a "relatively low market share base."
Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's c.e.o said: "The UK marketplace is changing faster than at any time in the past 30 years which has impacted our profits, like-for-like sales and market share. However, we are making good progress with our strategy, and our investment in price and quality is showing encouraging early signs of volume and transaction growth." He added: "We also have significant opportunities to grow our business. Clothing, general merchandise and financial services have all performed well over the past 12 months, as have our convenience and online channels. We have a significant ambition to grow these areas over the coming years."
The company's financial statement added that its strategy for growth would focus on increasing non-food presence in stores.
The company made 500 head office redundancies this year in a bid to reduce costs, which led to Phil Carroll, head of book buying at the retailer, exiting the company in March. He has now joined Pedigree Books as the company's interim head of sales.
Last month, Tesco reported its worst annual loss of £6.4bn.