'Lazarus moment' for Sainsbury's after best sales performance in years

Sainsbury's group retail like-for-like sales rose 2.3% excluding fuel in the 16 weeks to July 1

"General merchandise and clothing, including Argos, outperformed the market, with fast-track delivery and collection seeing a stellar performance during the quarter, particularly during the period of warm weather when customers wanted to buy and receive their products the same day".

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's hailed its best sales for years, leading to one analyst hailing it as a "Lazarus moment".

Sainsbury's said demand for deals on British strawberries and summer fare provided a boost to grocery sales, which jumped 3 per cent higher, while it also saw 1.9 per cent growth in the number of transactions at its tills.

The group said online grocery sales increased 8 percent, while sales at convenience stores were up 10 percent.

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This was the first quarter following the Home Retail purchase for which the group did not issue separate like-for-like sales data for Sainsbury's and Argos. This, combined with apparent resilience at Argos, should be taken positively in our opinion'.

Mike Coupe, group chief executive, said: "We have delivered a strong performance, driven by our differentiated strategy, offering customers quality, value and choice across food, general merchandise, clothing and financial services".

Tuesday's results for Sainsbury were the first released under a new reporting structure which combines figures for the Argos and Sainsbury brands.

Food price inflation also contributed to a rise in sales at the supermarket's checkouts.

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Playing down the impact of the weather, Coupe said the number of warm days over the whole period was "not far off the same" as past year.

The food sales rebound comes as a welcome boost to Sainsbury's, which warned in May over pressures from falling consumer confidence as inflation starts to bite.

The firm is widely understood to be in talks over acquiring the network of Nisa's more than 2,500 independently-owned convenience stores, in a deal worth close to £130m.

Nisa's 1,400 members who operate 2,500 shops including the McColl's convenience chain, would have to approve any takeover.

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