Sainsbury’s chief faces questions over Asda merger

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Sainsbury’s is set to report a dip in first-quarter sales this week, with boss Mike Coupe expected to be questioned on the progress of the supermarket’s £12 billion merger with Asda.

The grocery giant is tipped by analysts to report a 0.1 per cent fall in like-for-like sales in the three months to July, compared with 0.9 per cent increase in the fourth quarter.

James Grzinic, of Jefferies, said the trading update would be “sluggish”, with soft demand for general merchandise products at Argos behind the dip.

Lacklustre figures aside, focus is expected to fall on the Asda merger, with Coupe to face further probing over the deal as analysts turn their attention to the Competition and Markets Authority investigation.

James Anstead, analyst at Barclays, said: “We have long thought that the merger of Sainsbury’s and Asda makes sense – the question is whether the competition remedies will render the proposed deal uneconomic.”