How much profit are UK supermarkets making amid the cost crisis?

Executives from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons all denied profiteering at a committee with MPs.

Henry Saker-Clark
Tuesday 27 June 2023 16:16 BST
A deal has been struck to keep supplies of food-grade CO2 flowing (Tesco/PA)
A deal has been struck to keep supplies of food-grade CO2 flowing (Tesco/PA)

Bosses at UK supermarkets have denied they are profiteering from customers who have witnessed soaring increases in their food bills.

Executives from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons all defended their actions to MPs on Tuesday amid scrutiny over behaviour by firms in the sector.

The latest official figures showed that food inflation eased slightly last month but remained at a stubbornly high 18.4%.

The UK’s competition regulator is currently investigating how price increases and decreases in food and fuel have been passed onto consumers.

Here the PA news agency highlights how much profit the biggest supermarket chains have made and how it compares to previous years:


The UK’s biggest supermarket chain saw its profits cut by more than half in its latest financial year.

Tesco – which employs more than 300,000 people – saw its profits drop to £1 billion in the year to February 2023, from £2.03 billion in the previous year.

It came despite a 5.3% increase in its sales, excluding VAT and fuel, over the year.

The grocery giant blamed lower profits for the year on lower sales volumes, investment in the business and steep cost rises.

Tesco saw its profits slide following the impact of the Covid-19 as it swallowed higher costs related to the pandemic and opted to hand business rates tax relief back to the Government.


The second largest supermarket group, which also owns Argos, reported its own drop in profits last year.

In April, Sainsbury’s revealed that statutory profits tumbled by more than half to £327 million, while underlying profits were also 5% lower year-on-year.

It said this was partly driven by a £560 million investment into lower pricing to keep shoppers coming into its stores.

On Tuesday, the retailer’s food commercial director Rhian Bartlett that it has increased the price of products on shelves “behind input cost inflation”.


Asda followed the pattern seen by most of its rivals of reported a fall in profits.

The privately-owned business, which was bought by the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backers TDR Capital in 2021, recorded lower profits last year due to the impact of higher cost inflation.

The firm said adjusted earnings – Asda’s preferred measure of profitability – declined by almost a quarter to £886 million in 2022.

It also saw sales tip marginally higher for the year, as it was boosted by price cuts later in the year to attract more shoppers.


Fellow private equity-owned supermarket chain Morrisons also recorded a decline in earnings for the past financial year.

The group, which was bought by private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2021, revealed that adjusted earnings fell by 15% to £828 million over the year to October 30, from £975 million in the previous year.

On Tuesday, Morrisons chief executive David Potts denied claims that it was profiteering from price inflation and stressed that it would be quick to pass cost reductions on to its customers.


Numerous UK supermarket chains have said their profits have been lower as they have chosen to direct funds into keeping prices lower, at the expense of profitability.

This largely taken place in an effort to stop customers from fleeing to German discount rivals Aldi and Lidl, who have taken more market share over the past year as shoppers have looked to reduce the cost of their weekly shops.

Aldi has yet to reveal its profit data for last year, with its most recent figures showing that pre-tax profits slid to £35.7 million in 2021, from £264.8 million in 2020, blaming a jump in costs.

Similarly, Lidl has not yet revealed profits for the past year but recorded a pre-tax profit of £41.4 million for the year to February 2022.

This represented a 319% increase in profits compared with the previous year after cost reductions across the business.

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