LONDON, March 16 Britain's Sainsbury's
on Thursday reported a slight fall in underlying quarterly sales
in its core supermarkets business and cautioned over uncertainty
regarding cost pressures.
The firm, which last year purchased Argos-owner Home Retail,
said sales at supermarket stores open over a year fell 0.5
percent, excluding fuel, in the nine weeks to March 11, its
fiscal fourth quarter.
That compared to analysts' forecasts ranging down 1 percent
to up 0.3 percent, and a third quarter rise of 0.1 percent.
Argos' like-for-like sales rose 4.3 percent, a slight
acceleration from growth of 4.0 percent in the previous quarter.
"The market remains very competitive and the impact of cost
price pressures remains uncertain. However, we are well placed
to navigate the external environment and remain focused on
delivering our strategy," said Chief Executive Mike Coupe.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)