Sainsbury beats expectations but warns of food price rises

 
Kasmira Jefford
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J SAINSBURY warned yesterday that shoppers face an increase in food prices this Christmas after one of the worst harvests in decades, as the grocer posted better-than-expected quarterly sales growth.

Commercial director Mike Coup said the wet summer weather made it difficult to plant crops of winter vegetables like carrots and potatoes. It may for the first time have to source some of these products from abroad, putting inflationary pressures on food.

So-called ugly vegetables will also return to supermarket shelves to maximise the use of crops.

His comments came as the group posted like-for-like sales rose 1.9 per cent in the second quarter of the year to 29 September, including a one per cent lift from shop extensions. Total half year sales rose 1.7 per cent and were up 4.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Chief executive Justin King said sales of non-food items like jeans and schoolwear, were growing at around three times the pace of food. While rival retailers have cut back on selling non-food items in stores, King said “I don’t subscribe to that view.”

He said the Paralympics had helped to lift the public mood and hoped that its sponsorship of the event would help “lock in” new Nectar card customers.