Sainsbury’s has raised its full-year profit guidance after delivering strong Christmas results and growing its market share.

Sainsbury's store exterior

The grocer recorded that total sales were up 3.1% in the six weeks to January 8, compared with the same period in 2019.

Its grocery division boomed, with sales rising 0.8% year-on-year, and 7.7% on a two-year basis.

Sainsbury’s attributed its success to its improved price positioning including its Aldi Price Match, as well as its innovation of 600 new products, 300 of which were for the festive season.

The grocer also launched a “record recruitment drive” for the period, employing 22,000 temporary staff members to keep up with demand both in-store and online.

As a reward, Sainsbury’s is investing £100m in raising base wages to £10 per hour.

Clothes and merch down

Sainsbury's Tu

Clothing and general merchandise sales fell flat this year, up 2.9% and down 10.4% year-on-year respectively.

Sainsbury’s said this was due to an exceptional performance last year, limited availability, and reduced promotional activity.

Despite this, performance is in line with expectations, and Sainsbury’s has raised its profit guidance for the full year, which it now expects to report underlying profit before tax of at least £720m in the financial year to March 2022.

Chief executive Simon Roberts said: “I am really pleased with how we delivered for customers this Christmas. 

“More people ate at home and our significant investment in value, innovation and service led to market share growth. At the same time, we are pleased to increase profit guidance for the full year.  

“The backdrop was challenging and our teams worked hard throughout the year to make sure we had all of the products everyone wanted. Our suppliers did a great job in challenging conditions throughout the quarter and I thank them for all their support for our business. 

“We were bold in our plan for product, value, innovation and service and delivered volume growth ahead of the market. 

“We delivered our best value food this Christmas, launched our lowest ever priced Christmas dinner heading into the key Christmas shopping week and we had our biggest ever New Year. 

“Offering great value will be more important than ever this year and we have just launched our bold new Sainsbury’s Quality Aldi Price Match campaign, which targets 150 fresh products that customers buy most often.

“We also delivered a strong digital performance, responding to a surge in demand for online deliveries over Christmas and last-minute online gift shopping at Argos.”