Sainsbury’s revealed second-quarter sales rose 4.7 per cent (excluding fuel), in line with company expectations.

Like-for-like sales climbed 3.1 per cent (excluding fuel) in the 16 weeks to October 6 – the 11th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth. In the first half, like-for-likes were up 4 per cent, excluding fuel.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said: “This result represents strong sales growth in a quarter with some very tough comparatives, particularly during the first six weeks where exceptionally warm weather helped to deliver additional growth across the business last year. Our two-year like-for-like growth remains at about 10 per cent, building on the excellent results delivered last year.”

The grocer also revealed its entire range of own-brand tea will become 100 per cent fair trade in the next three years, which will triple fair-trade tea sales in the UK.

Seymour Pierce analyst Andrew Wade said: “Clearly, the bigger issue is the bid situation, which now seems to be all but complete. The pension funding appears to be the major stumbling block but, as in the Alliance Boots deal, we expect this to be overcome eventually. The words of Robert Tchenguiz, that the Qatari's are well financed and will not be going away, seem ever more appropriate.”