Convenience store chain Spar has reported a 3.1% rise in first quarter sales boosted by an improved fresh food and wine offer and an expansion its own-brand products.

The retailer, which has 2,583 stores across the UK, said sales of own-branded products rose by 4.4% over the three months to the end of July, while overall sales of fresh food increased by 3.9%.

Sales of fresh vegetables were up 10.4%, fruit up 20% ad fresh meat and poultry up by 5%. An overhaul of its wine portfolio, supported by a “wine festival” across its 2,100 licensed stores, saw sales increase by 3.5%. South African wines were particularly popular during the World Cup with a 151% rise in sales.

Spar offered a range of promotions, including half price, buy-one-get-one free offers and meal deals. Sales of promoted items rose by 28.8% year on year, with fresh food promotions leading to a 36.3% increase and promoted grocery items up 28.1%

Spar UK managing director Jerry Marwood said that its portfolio of independently-owned and managed stores are able to respond quickly to the demands of the local communities they serve.

He added: “On a category basis, we’ve seen strong performances across our fresh food and our wine in particular.  This suggests that every week we are now seen by our 15 million customers as delivering the products they need to make a home-cooked meal, to pick up food on the go or to buy some quality wine to go with the Sunday lunch. “

He said the chain would continue to focus on its product, store and service offering to maintain sales over the rest of the year and into 2011.