Sainsbury’s has reported healthy third-quarter profits, thanks to the sale of both its premium and value product ranges.

The UK-wide supermarket chain reported its Taste the Difference (TTD) range grew by over 10% in the 14 weeks to 7 January, contributing to a 4.5% increase in total sales, excluding fuel. It sold 50,000 of its new TTD Kirsch Cherry Filled Christmas Puddings.

In addition, staple ingredients from its Basics line grew strongly, with unsalted butter increasing by 82% and dried fruits up 30%, reflecting the growth in home baking.

Justin King, chief executive of J Sainsbury plc, said, “This was a strong quarter, rounded off by our best Christmas ever, despite the economic backdrop. Across the quarter, customers chose Sainsbury‟s to help them Live Well for Less, taking advantage of our great value offer during October and November and then treating themselves and their families over the holiday season.
“There were 26 million customer transactions in the Christmas week (18-24 December), 1.5 million more than last year. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel were up 2.1%, which was on top of a market-beating Christmas in 2010, giving two-year like-for-like growth of 5.7%. This performance would not have been possible without the fantastic efforts of our 150,000 colleagues.

The company added over 600,000sq ft of new space in the third quarter, including its 1,000th store in Irvine, Scotland, and 21 new convenience stores, which grew at almost 25%. Sainsbury’s grew its online groceries at almost 20% and delivered a record 160,000 orders per week over the Christmas period.

To see how well other leading supermarket chains and bakeries did during the 2011 Christmas, read the 13 January issue of British Baker.