Sainsbury's reports 'record Christmas sales'

Despite weather conditions, Sainsbury's sales overtook Asda, making the group second-largest grocer.

Sainsbury's has reclaimed its position as second-largest grocer in the UK with record sales that overtook Asda in the run-up to Christmas.

The supermarket served 24.5 million customers is the week up to Christmas Eve, reporting like-for-like sales - excluding petrol - up 3.6% in the 14 weeks to 8 January from a year earlier.

Despite the averse weather conditions which have affected retail profits, the group created 6,000 new jobs over this period and aims to create 20,000 more over the next three years.

Chief executive Justin King said that stadd had worked "extremely hard" during the Christmas period, when sales of Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range rose by nearly 20%.

"Our strategy of providing universal customer appeal through great food at fair prices has helped Sainsbury's to deliver its best-ever Christmas," said King.

He added that Sainsbury's had increased its market share slightly to 16.6%, with sales of lingerie and clothing accessories rising by 45%.

"Additional promotion of its higher margin products, along with the weather conditions tempting shoppers to buy more in fewer trips, played into the company's hands such that its performance could yet prove to be the best of the big four [supermarkets]," said Richard Hunter at broker Hargreaves Lansdown.

King also revealed that 2,100 people who were taken on as temporary workers over Christmas have now been offered permanent jobs.