Sainsbury's store
Sainsbury’s reported a loss before tax of £72mJ Sainsbury plc

British supermarket giant Sainsbury's has posted a pre-tax loss of £72m ($110m, €97.4m) in the year to March 14, its first full-year loss in a decade.

By contrast, Sainsbury's made a pre-tax profit of £898m the previous year. The loss was precipitated to some degree by £753m of charges, including a £628m write-down to its property portfolio.

The supermarket sector is caught in the grip of a fierce and continued price war between all the big players who are struggling to compete with mega discounters Aldi and Lidl.

As a result, Sainsbury's has seen its underlying profit before tax fall by 14.7% to £681m, down from £798m a year earlier.

Like-for-like sales excluding fuel were down by 1.9% over the course of the year.

The charges accounted for also included a £53m hit related to the acquisition of a banking joint venture with Lloyds, and £17m compensation over the closure of the defined benefit pension scheme. There was also some £15m of restructuring charges.

Chief executive Mike Coup said: "The UK marketplace is changing faster than at any time in the past 30 years which has impacted our profits, like-for-like sales and market share.

"We know that our customers still want the best quality food at great prices and our strategy is built on our strong foundations of selling great food with a focus on quality, provenance and sustainability.

"At the same time, we know that our customers want value for money and we have therefore invested in lowering our prices; our prices versus our competitors have never been better."