Sainsbury’s posts a sales rise ahead of Argos offer deadline

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second biggest supermarket, reported its first quarterly sales increase in more than two years, three days before a deadline for it to raise its offer for Home Retail, which owns Argos.

Sainsbury’s posts a sales rise ahead of Argos offer deadline

Sainsbury’s is embroiled in a battle for Argos with South African company Steinhoff International, and both suitors have until Friday evening to make a firm offer or walk away.

The UK supermarket made a cash and shares proposal for Home Retail in February worth £1.3 billion (€1.67bn) but Steinhoff trumped that offer with a 175 pence-per-share proposal later in the month, valuing it at £1.44bn.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe was tight-lipped yesterday about his next move, beyond reiterating that he won’t overpay.

“It’s by no means a must-do deal. We’ve said there’s a price and we won’t go beyond that,” he said.

Mr Coupe dismissed the suggestion that a failure to land Argos would leave a major question mark over its strategy.

“You can see from the (fourth quarter) numbers that the business has moved forward well on a number of fronts,” he said.

When it first unveiled its takeover proposal, Sainsbury’s said it wanted to buy Home Retail to accelerate growth.

Sainsbury’s said sales at stores open more than a year rose 0.1%, excluding fuel, in the nine weeks to March 12, ahead of analyst forecasts.

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