Sainsbury's rings up first sales increase for two years


Supermarket Sainsbury's has stepped up its performance after posting its first quarterly like-for-like sales growth for more than two years.

Britain's second-biggest grocer said like-for-like retail sales excluding fuel rose 0.1% in the fourth quarter, compared with a fall of 0.4% in the third quarter. 

The uptick in sales is a significant boost for the Big Four grocer, coming after sales dropped 1.9% a year earlier amid an ongoing supermarket price war. 

The sales figures come just days ahead of the March 18 deadline for bettering its offer for Argos owner Home Retail Group.

Sainsbury's said it would create a ''world-leading'' retailer bigger than rivals John Lewis and Amazon UK when it tabled an improved £1.3 billion offer for Home Retail in February. 

Since then, South African retailer Steinhoff has attempted to gatecrash the supermarket's cash and shares deal, with a £1.4 billion offer. 

Chief executive Mike Coupe said the supermarket had delivered a "strong performance" in the fourth quarter, as it recorded like-for-like sales and volume growth while maintaining its market share. 

He added: "We are progressing well with our quality investment in 3,000 own-brand products.

"The new year is traditionally a time when customers focus on healthy eating and to cater for this demand we launched a number of vegetable-based product innovations including boodles (butternut squash noodles) and courgetti (spiralised courgette) which are proving extremely popular with our customers."