US grocer Kroger has recorded a massive 60% fall in annual pre-tax profit and blamed the strike by grocery workers in southern California which lasted for five months.

For the year to January 31, pre-tax profit fell from $1.9bn to $769.8m, however sales did rise 4% to $53.8bn for the same period.

Kroger said the damage was done during the fourth quarter which covered three months of the strike. During that period Kroger made a loss of $273.4m compared with a pre-tax profit of $609.6m for the same period the previous year.

Kroger was also affected by a $444m goodwill impairment charge in relation to its Smith’s food and drug stores division and a smaller work stoppage in West Virginia which cost the company $156.4m.

The industrial dispute which was resolved on February 29 involved over 60,000 employees of Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway stores who were either on strike or locked out, is believed to have cost the grocers $1bn.