SAINSBURY’S heaped more pressure on rival Tesco today as growth in convenience shopping and its own ranges helped it deliver better-than-expected sales.
The UK’s third largest supermarket chain, which has more than 1,000 stores, said like-for-like sales excluding fuel rose 2.6 per cent in the 10 weeks to March 17, compared with City expectations for a rise of 2.1 per cent.
It grew its share of the convenience store market, with sales up 20 per cent following the opening of 15 new stores, and it claimed to be the fastest growing online grocer with trading up more than a fifth after it served an average of 165,000 customers a week.
Grocery sales were supported by its Brand Match price guarantee, while its own basics range grew by 10 per cent and premium Taste The Difference by 20 per cent.
The update supports recent grocery data showing it is stealing market share from rival Tesco, which recently issued a profits warning and earlier this month announced the summer departure of UK boss Richard Brasher.
“We continue to outperform the market and gain market share,” said chief executive of Sainsbury’s Justin King.
He said although the economic climate was likely to remain challenging Britain’s roster of summer events, including celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics and Paralympics, were opportunities for growth.
Prior to today’s update analysts’ consensus for Sainsbury’s 2011-12 underlying pretax profit was £700m, up from £665m in 2010-11.