Sainsbury’s like-for-likes rose 1.7% excluding fuel in the 11 weeks to March 20, which was in line with the retailer’s own expectations.

Total sales grew 4.4% excluding fuel in the period.

Like-for-like sales for the full year to March 20 were up 4.3% excluding fuel.

Chief executive Justin King said: “We’ve delivered another good performance in line with our expectations on top of strong growth last year.  

“While we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging in 2010, our universal customer appeal together with our accelerated growth of space for new supermarkets, extensions and convenience stores means we are well placed to make continued good progress in the new financial year.”

King said the grocer had benefited from its “focus on operational excellence which has delivered further improvements in customer service and availability”.

Its non-food offer “continues to perform well”, growing three times the rate of food.  The January Sale performed well for non-food and Sainsbury’s said childrenswear has “become a rising star”, and is now the seventh biggest kidswear brand in the UK market by volume.

Sainsbury’s served more than 19 million customers on average per week, up one million on last year.

King said: “Our unique loyalty offer which combines Nectar, the UK’s most popular loyalty scheme, and coupon at till technology enables us to deliver a wide range of relevant and targeted offers which our customers really value.  Over 90 suppliers are now signed up to the scheme.”

The grocer accelerated space growth in the year, opening more than 100 new and extended supermarket and convenience stores, representing a 6.8% gross increase in space.

Sainsbury’s is on track to increase gross space growth by 15% in the two years to March 2011, creating 13,000 new jobs.

The grocer’s 51 convenience estate delivered a “strong underlying performance”, according to King.

Online groceries sales increased 15%. King said Sainsbury’s continues to see “good growth” in its online non-food business.

The grocer completed a sale and leaseback of its 83,000 sq ft store in Hayes in the period.