Sainsbury’s is to continue to target new areas of the UK as it aims to “give people a choice” that isn’t Tesco.

The UK’s number-three supermarket, which announced it has added  596,000sqft of new space to its estate when reporting its interim results on Wednesday, said it is avoiding flooding the market in areas in which it already operates.  

King told reporters that “over half the postcodes in the UK are dominated by just one retailer in Tesco and we are providing choice” at a press conference at the retailer’s Holborn, London headquarters.

Sainsbury’s is putting emphasis on breaking new ground with 35% of planned new stores more than eight miles from an existing Sainsbury’s supermarket and further expansion planned  in the North.

King singled out a win against Tesco in gaining permission for a store in Kelso in the Scottish Borders which opened last month as endorsement of the tactic.

“All the towns around it had Tescos. We were in a direct head-to-head with Tesco on the site and customers in the town said they wanted a Sainsbury’s,” he said.    

The Sainsbury’s boss corrected comments made by self-styled Queen of Shops Mary Portas. Her High Street Review is imminent and she claimed that King wanted government to make it easy for Sainsbury’s to “come back to the high street”. King said he actually asked for it to be easier for customers to come back through fewer parking charges and better security.

King also confirmed that Sainsbury’s would be interested if any Iceland outlets became available as a result of a sale.

For instance, if Asda or Morrisons, which have both submitted first round bids for the grocer, acquired Iceland then both wold have to give up around 200 stores to comply with competition law.