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British supermarket chain Sainsbury's reports after-tax profit of US$1.2 bil.

LONDON--British supermarket chain Sainsbury's unveiled a rise in annual net profits on Wednesday, but its outgoing chief executive warned of challenges ahead.

Profit after tax rose 19 percent to 716 million pounds (US$1.2 billion) in the year to the end of March compared with 2012/13, the company said in an earnings statement.

Revenues increased 2.8 percent to almost 24 billion pounds.

“In a competitive retail environment we have focused on delivering high quality, affordable own-brand products,” said chief executive Justin King.

“While the general economic outlook is showing some signs of improvement, conditions in the food retail sector are likely to remain challenging for the foreseeable future as customers continue to spend cautiously,” he added in the statement.

King had already announced his intention to leave the company later this year after a decade at the helm. He will be succeeded by Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's commercial director.

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