LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - British supermarket group Sainsbury's expects to trade well in the run-up to Christmas but fears a consumer hangover in the new year if Brexit is unresolved, its boss said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a snap December 12 election in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock.
The first-half profit fall comes as Sainsbury's tries to rebuild confidence in its strategy following a botched attempt to take over rival Asda.
The company expects profits in the second half to have an easier comparison with last year, due to the timing of staff wage increases last year, marketing costs and weather.
In September, Coupe put cost cutting and paying off debt at the heart of a new plan created to show Sainsbury's can prosper on its own.
"But depending on the outcome of the election and how quickly we get the whole Brexit situation resolved, there may well be a hangover into the new calendar year", he said.
Mike Coupe, chief executive of the leading United Kingdom supermarket group (SBRY.L), also warned Brexit uncertainty "weighs heavily" on its customers and said election day would hit supermarket sales.
J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) has reported a sharp decline in sales and profits for the first half of the year, as expected.
With the write-down included, its profits were down to just £9m in the six months to 21 September, down from £279m a year ago.
It has said it will close up to 15 large supermarkets, up to 40 convenience stores and up to 70 Argos stores. Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, dipped 1 per cent, although Sainsbury's said a 1.6 per cent fall in the first quarter of the financial year improved in the second - down just 0.2 per cent.
Sainsbury's is led by its chief executive Mike Coupe.
"We have set out our plan to create one multi-brand, multichannel business".
He said the retailer "now has to decide how to differentiate itself in a notoriously competitive sector". Furthermore, the weather was a lot clearer for the company a year earlier. "At the same time, it is looking to reduce net debt further and indeed has reduced the figure by 5% year-on-year, with an additional £300 million plus reduction pencilled in over the course of the year". It begs the question: what can Sainsbury's do to differentiate itself?