Sainsbury's will throw down the gauntlet to grocery market leader Tesco this week with strong sales figures.
The UK's third-biggest supermarket chain is forecast to announce a 2.3 per cent rise in underlying sales in its fourth-quarter, which would put it ahead of the most recent updates from Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.
Following what it describes as an "encouraging tick-up in trading momentum" from sales growth of 0.9 per cent in its third quarter, Shore Capital forecasts that Sainsbury's will see pre-tax profit up 5 per cent to £744m for the year to 16 March, on increased sales of £23.2bn.
Sainsbury's products have so far been clear of equine DNA, so the chain, led by Justin King, has not suffered like some rivals. Its latest trading compares with the 1.8 per cent rise in sales at Tesco over Christmas, a flat performance at Asda and a 4.1 per cent fall at Morrisons in its fourth quarter.