Sainsbury's healthy foods help quarterly sales grow for the first time in two years

Chief executive Mike Coupe said Sainsbury’s had capitalised on shoppers’ New Year diets and health regimes

Britons’ healthy New Year’s resolutions have helped Sainsbury’s deliver its first quarterly underlying sales growth in two years.

The supermarket said sales, excluding fuel, in stores open for more than a year edged up 0.1 per cent in the nine weeks to March 12. Total sales were 1.2 per cent higher.

Analysts suggested the growth could help Sainsbury's in its pursuit of Argos owner Home Retail Group. The company, whose £1.3 billion 'possible offer' was trumped by South African group Steinhoff's £1.4 billion approach, has until Friday to make a firm bid or walk away.

courgetti-spaghetti-sainsbury.jpg

A number of vegetable-based product innovations including boodles (butternut squash noodles) and courgetti (spiralized courgette) proved popular with  customers.

Chief executive Mike Coupe said Sainsbury’s had capitalised on shoppers’ New Year diets and health regimes by introducing products like ‘boodles’ (butternut squash noodles), ‘courgetti’ (spiralized courgette) and special breads including healthy Rye bread, which had proved “extremely popular”.

Clothing, including another range by TV personality Gok Wan, also performed well, with sales up 10 per cent, while entertainment saw 11 per cent growth.

Coupe reaffirmed Sainsbury’s commitment to the industry price war, which has seen it and its fellow Big Four grocers – Tesco, Asda and Morrisons – slash prices to compete with discounters Aldi and Lidl.

He said the supermarket would be continue phasing out “confusing” multi-buy promotions and “simplify our trading strategy in favour of lower regular prices”.

Coupe was upbeat on the company’s prospects.

“The market will remain competitive but we are confident that we will continue to outperform our major peers,” he said.

Comments