Sainsbury’s board of directors fought off angry questions from shareholders at its annual general meeting yesterday.

The shareholders demanded to know why the supermarket group had slashed it dividend payment after a sharp fall in profits.

Sainsbury’s chairman, Philip Hampton, defended the actions. He said: “If we had paid out a dividend significantly higher than profits you may be asking different questions of us.”

“I think we are doing the right things and we have the support of the City and most shareholders,” he added.

In May, Sainsbury said that its pre-tax profit for the year was £15m, down from £610m in 2004.