Sainsbury's sales fall as King era draws to a close

LONDON, June 11 Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:10am EDT

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - Britain's J Sainsbury posted a second straight fall in quarterly underlying sales as Chief Executive Justin King prepares to step down from the grocer after 10 years at the helm.

The group, which trails market leader Tesco and is battling with Wal-Mart Stores' Asda to be the UK's No. 2 supermarket, said sales at stores open over a year fell 1.1 percent, excluding fuel, in the 12 weeks to June 7, its fiscal first quarter.

That compared to analysts' forecasts of down 0.5-1.5 percent and a fall of 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of Sainsbury's 2013-14 year.

The fourth quarter decline followed unbroken positive sales for the best part of nine years.

King will be succeeded by commercial director Mike Coupe following Sainsbury's annual shareholders' meeting on July 9.

The group's total first quarter sales rose 1.0 percent, excluding fuel.

Sainsbury's said it was confident it would outperform supermarket peers through the remainder of the year.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)

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