J Sainsbury sales growth slows down

J SAINSBURY, hot on the heels of supermarket archrival Tesco, yesterday revealed that its second quarter sales growth had slowed as food inflation eased in the autumn.<br /><br />Sainsbury&rsquo;s said like-for-like sales growth, excluding fuel, slowed to 4.6 per cent rise for the 16 weeks to 3 October down from seven per cent in the previous quarter.<br /><br />The supermarket cautioned that it expected its &ldquo;growth to slow in the coming months due to reduced food inflation&rdquo;, but said the group was well positioned for an eventual upturn.<br /><br />The cautious outlook follows on from Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy&rsquo;s upbeat statement about the economy.<br /><br />Sainsbury chief executive Justin King hit back at Leahy&rsquo;s comments that Tesco was catching up with its faster growing rivals.<br /><br />King said: &ldquo;I think we are clearly showing stronger growth than Tesco during the period.&rdquo;<br /><br />Sainsbury&rsquo;s said that its low-cost Basics range now accounted for 30 per cent of sales, but growth had slowed since the beginning of the year.<br /><br />King shrugged off Waitrose&rsquo;s own Essentials low cost range saying &ldquo;for those customers looking for great deals, they can get those goods at Sainsbury&rsquo;s at a significantly cheaper price.&rdquo;<br /><br />King said that due to lower costs and minimum food inflation confidence was rising and customers were &ldquo;bouncier&rdquo; and more willing to &ldquo;splash out&rdquo;. Sales of the group&rsquo;s pricier Taste the Difference range jumped 25 per cent in the quarter.<br /><br /><strong>FAST FACTS </strong>J SAINSBURY<br />&9679; Sainsbury&rsquo;s is the UK&rsquo;s third biggest supermarket.<br />&9679; The group has around 808 stores in the UK and raised &pound;432m in June to fund further store expansion.