Sainsbury's CEO: Brexit could give British supermarkets an unexpected boost

LONDON — Britain’s supermarket chains could benefit from Brexit as squeezed consumers tend to eat more at home and less in restaurants, the boss of Sainsbury’s said on Wednesday.

“A small squeeze isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a large grocery chain,” said Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe at the Retail Week Live conference on Wednesday.

British consumer spending has started to slump in recent months as shoppers feel the financial strain caused by stagnant wages and rising prices in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Food inflation — the cost of staples like dairy and meat — has risen sharply since January after two years of falls, due to a weak pound and rising commodity prices.

“If we see customers’ incomes being squeezed — and we are beginning to see a slowdown in that disposable income growth — supermarkets tend to do better, because people stop eating out and start eating in,” Coupe said.

“I’m not saying I would ask for it because broadly speaking it’s not good for the economy more widely,” he added.


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