Sainsbury's market share at decade high as profits rise

Sainsbury's has said this morning that its grocery market share is at its highest in a decade, at 16.8 per cent. The supermarket has seen like-for-like sales growth for 35 consecutive quarters, with profits in the first half of 2013 up seven per cent, at £400m. (Release)

Total sales including fuel were up 4.4 per cent to £13,953m. Without fuel, the store saw a four per cent increase in the period (28 weeks to 28 September).

The store, which won a sizeable chunk of industry prizes in the period, has been working hard to win and retain customers in the fiercely competitive grocery market. Over the past two years, Sainsbury's share price has been up 29 per cent, whilst that of competitor Tesco has been down nine per cent.

Chief executive Justin King said that, whilst "customers' budget remain tight and any recovery in the economy may take time to take effect", he's confident the store can continue to do well. Sainsbury's Live Well for Less brand is growing at over twice the rate of branded goods, and Taste the Difference is seeing double-digit growth rates.

The store reported that it's on target to open around two convenience stores per week - that's around one million sq ft of extra space - with the number set to overtake supermarkets later this financial year. (It opened six new supermarkets in the period.) Sainsbury's Locals account for almost a third of the country's convenience market growth. The grocer's is also on track with savings, with operation cost savings of £55m, putting it on track to meet its £100m target for the full year.

Sainsbury's expects to deliver an interim dividend of 5.0 pence, up 4.2 per cent year-on-year.