Analysts said there are “grounds for optimism” given Sainsbury’s 0.1 per cent gain in market share in the fiercely price-discounting grocery sector in the 12 weeks to 19 February, according to market research firm Kantar.
It comes as further doubts engulfed Tesco this week, which followed its recent first profit warning in two decades by announcing that Richard Brasher, head of the key UK business, was quitting. Group chief executive Philip Clarke is taking over the direct running of the UK arm.
Clive Black, food retailing analyst at Shore Capital, said: “Sainsbury’s has been outperforming the opposition in a difficult climate for its ‘middle England’ heartland.
“They deserve credit for that. We are expecting Justin King [Sainsbury’s chief executive] to announce fourth-quarter same-floorspace sales growth of 2 per cent.”
The group, which has nearly 50 stores in Scotland, posted like-for-like sales growth of 1.2 per cent over the festive period. That compared with 0.7 per cent growth at Morrisons, which came shortly before Tesco’s January profit warning.
Keith Bowman, an analyst with Hargreaves Lansdown, said Sainsbury’s latest forecast outperformance is also likely to have been helped by “store extensions and market campaigns in relation to its online offering”.