Sainsbury’s reported slowing sales growth in the past three months, but said performance was in line with expectations.

The grocer posted like-for-likes, excluding fuel, up 3.4 per cent for the 12 weeks to June 14, compared with a 4.1 per cent rise in the previous three months. Total sales for the first quarter rose 4.5 per cent, excluding fuel.

Sainsbury’s chief Justin King said the results were encouraging against a tough backdrop and food has proved resilient in the climate. Sainsbury’s is “as cheap as any other supermarket if customers buy carefully”, he said.

Bernstein analyst Christopher Hogbin said the figures “should go some way to alleviating investors’ worst fears about Sainsbury’s prospects”, adding that the fact that the recovery plan is still on track should give comfort.

However, Blue Oar analyst Greg Lawless warned: “Sainsbury’s has been losing share all spring and we do not see this changing soon.” He pointed out that Qatari investment vehicle Delta Two is now free to bid again.

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