J Sainsbury, once Britain's largest supermarket chain (now trailing Tesco), is reportedly battling an incursion of gremlins at its newly upgraded Sainsbury's To You shopping website.

The refurbished site had been trumpeted as more user-friendly and speedier. Aims which disgruntled online shoppers complain are far from fulfilled.

Cruising Sainsbury’s cyber-aisles, once a twenty minute stroll according to critics, can now extend to an hour-plus trudge, while the experience more closely resembles a commando obstacle course. The site's search engine is less effective than of old, shoppers claim, while those with half-filled trolleys are subjected to involuntary log-offs.

The problems, attributed to overloading at peak periods, may have been exacerbated by over-energetic promotion of the revamped service. According to Sainsbury, the past twelve weeks have seen a thirty per cent increase in online customers.

Meantime, in the real world, Sainsbury will this week unveil its half-year results to September 30, expected by analysts to be robust.

A consensus of seers predict a hike in pre-tax profits from £300.4 million ($428.8m) to £332m ($472.7m) – boosted by the performance of New England, US, unit Shaws Supermarkets which posted second quarter like-for-like sales growth of five per cent.

Analysts point out, however, that Sainsbury's overall figures are boosted by one-off factors such as the sale of DIY chain Homebase and the group’s Egyptian assets.

News source: Financial Times