123% profit rise makes Sainsbury's great again

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The Independent Online

Resurgent supermarket Sainsbury's said its recovery was on track today as it posted a 123% rise in half-year profits.

The company said its overcame a highly competitive market after like-for-like sales excluding fuel grew by 6.2% during the six months to October 7, boosting pre-tax profits to £194 million during the period.

The chain has now delivered £1.3 billion additional sales after 18 months as part of its Making Sainsbury's Great Again - more than half its planned £2.5 billion target,

The firm has now enjoyed seven consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales and market share growth as it benefits from the nation's healthy eating drive.

Chairman Philip Hampton said: "We are now halfway through our three-year plan and the recovery is on track."

The "Try Something New Today" scheme, which was launched 14 months ago, was branded "incredibly successful" as it encourages people to change their eating habits.

Sainsbury said items featured in advertising - fronted by TV chef Jamie Oliver - had inspired customers to put different products into their baskets.

Mango sales were up 400% year on year after the fruit was featured in an ad during the summer, while the Christmas campaign will offer more ideas.

Chief executive Justin King said: "A good performance on food together with good performances from online and non-food have driven higher sales densities, which are up 5.6%."

Sales made on the supermarket website have grown - this time by 40% year on year - and the company now takes around 60,000 orders each week online.

Sainsbury admitted the market would remain "highly competitive" over the next six months as it also faces higher energy costs and tougher sales comparatives.