September 25, 2019 / 6:23 AM / 20 days ago

UK's Sainsbury's says trading improves as lays out new plan

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - British supermarket group Sainsbury’s said on Wednesday its trading performance improved in its latest quarter as it detailed a new plan to cut costs and reduce debt.

The 150-year old group, which saw its 7.3 billion pound bid for rival Asda blocked by Britain’s competition regulator in April, said its like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, fell 0.2% in the 12 weeks to Sept. 21, its fiscal second quarter, having fallen 1.6% in the first quarter.

Sainsbury’s said it would reduce costs by about 500 million pounds ($623 million) over five years, in addition to ongoing cost savings to cover the impact of cost inflation. It also increased its three year net debt reduction target to at least 750 million pounds, from 600 million pounds previously.

It forecast 2019-20 underlying pretax profit in line with analysts’ consensus expectations.

$1 = 0.8024 pounds Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle

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