Announcing its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 9th March 2019, Sainsbury’s revealed that the recent collapse of its proposed merger with Asda cost the business £46 million.

The multiple giant was dealt a major blow last week when the Competition and Mergers Authority blocked its proposed merger completely.

Reporting on a what it considers to have been an “increasingly tough and competitive retail environment,” the supermarket reported a 7.8% rise in underlying profits tp £63 5million.

Sainsbury’s boss, Mike Coupe, is now reported, in the City, to be under great pressure to come up with a Plan B for its shareholders.

Investment research analyst at The Share Centre, Ian Forrest, said: “There is now considerable pressure on the management, especially chief executive, Mike Coupe, to show Sainsbury’s can succeed despite the setback.

“The company is investing in parts of its store network, which is badly needed, and recognises the need to develop its online sales.”

In his statement Coupe said: “I am pleased to report that we have increased profits, reduced net debt and increased the dividend. This is testament to the hard work of colleagues across the business and I would like to thank them for their commitment during this year of change.

“We completed the integration of Argos that we set out in 2016, delivering £160 million in synergies ahead of schedule. We completed a major transformation of how we run Sainsbury’s stores and have made significant improvements to store standards in recent months, which remain a focus.

Mike Coupe, group chief executive of Sainsbury’s.

Customers continue to rate us top for quality food and we are growing our premium ranges. We are also focused on reducing costs so that we can invest to make commodity products better value for our customers.

“We will increase and accelerate investment in the core business, investing to improve over 400 supermarkets this year. £4.7 billion of our revenue now comes from our online businesses and we are increasing investment in technology to make shopping across Sainsbury’s, Argos and Sainsbury’s Bank as quick and convenient as possible.

We will also continue to strengthen our balance sheet and are making a new commitment to reduce net debt by at least £600 million over the next three years.

“I am confident in our strategy and also clear on what we need to do to continue to evolve the business in a highly competitive market where shopping habits continue to change.”