* Asda CFO says UK consumers are in recession
* Sainsbury FD says "hard to see light at end of tunnel"
* Carpetright profit falls
* Thorntons to close stores
* TJ Hughes looking to appoint administrator
By James Davey and Mark Potter
LONDON, June 28 Two bulwarks of Britain's retail
sector -- supermarket groups Asda and Sainsbury --
painted a bleak picture on Tuesday, as the pound hit a 13-month
low against a basket of currencies on worries about the economy.
Consumers are in recession, the chief financial officer of
Asda, the British arm of U.S. retailer Wal-Mart , told
the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit.
"Do I expect it to improve any time soon? No, I do not,"
Judith McKenna said.
Her views were echoed by Sainsbury finance director John
"There is a huge, huge amount of pressure on consumers, and
has been certainly for the last six months and certainly will be
for the next six months," he told the Reuters Summit.
"It is very difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel
at the moment."
COMPANIES GOING INTO ADMINISTRATION
The Office for National Statistics confirmed an earlier
estimate that the economy grew 0.5 percent in the first three
months of 2011, a muted bounce from a 0.5 percent contraction in
the weather-affected final quarter of 2010.
Household spending declined at its fastest quarterly pace
since the second quarter of 2009, dropping 0.6 percent. Once the
effect of higher taxes and inflation was taken into account,
real household disposable incomes were 2.7 percent lower than a
year earlier, the biggest annual fall since 1977.
Carpetright , Britain's biggest floor coverings
retailer, said it was braced for two more years of tough trading
conditions as cash-strapped consumers cut back on spending.
Chocolate store Thorntons said it was to close at
least a third of its own stores as a result of the tough
The difficult conditions have also led to a spate of retail
companies going into administration.
Earlier this week, department store chain TJ Hughes said it
was looking to appoint an administrator.
Women's fashion retailer Jane Norman has also gone into
administration, following home furnishings firm Habitat UK and
HomeForm, the owner of Moben Kitchens and Dolphin Bathrooms.
Craig Yeaman at Saracen Fund Managers said the retail sector
remained one for investors to avoid, adding that his portfolio
was "underweight" on retail stocks and more "overweight" in
areas such as energy and industrial stocks.
"It is a tough place out there and consumers are being much
more cautious over their spending," he said.
(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Tresa Sherin
Morera; Editing by Dan Lalor)