An £85m investment in fresh food helped Sainbury’s sales improve by 4.6% in its fourth quarter, the supermarket retailer revealed this morning.

Chief executive Justin King claimed the investment was “delivering real results”, as sales of its Basics range increased by 10% and its Taste the Difference also improved by 20%.

Sainsbury’s also reported that the training of 18,000 staff at its bakery and food colleges was paying off and had “resulted in sales from our counters growing faster than at any other retailer”.

Sainsbury’s said its like-for-like sales (LFLs), excluding fuel, increased by 2.6% in the quarter, topping a good year for the retailer, which saw comparable sales for the year up by 2.1%. As well as the returns from the investment in its food offer, Sainsbury’s said its convenience, online and non-food areas were all showing growth “ahead of the market”.

Commenting on the company’s performance, King said: “Our strategy of delivering universal customer appeal is succeeding in the current economic climate. Our unique own-label ranges enable customers to save money when they need to and to treat themselves, their friends and families on special occasions. Through Brand Match, customers are increasingly aware of the great value Sainsbury’s offers. They are inspired by Live Well for Less, which helps them find ways to make their money go further without compromising on quality. We continue to outperform the market and gain market share.”

He also highlighted the opportunities ahead with the Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics.