Australian grocery retailer Woolworths has reported higher-than-expected sales growth in the third quarter and has raised the top end of its full-year earnings per share forecast.

The retailer has been carrying out an ongoing savings drive that has cut its inventory costs and returned the savings to its customers through lower prices, reported Reuters.

Sales for the quarter to 6 April rose 8.2% to A$6.2bn (US$3.7bn), while sales from continuing operation, excluding wholesale operations, which Woolworths has exited, increased 11.5% to $6.1bn. Analysts had forecast a quarterly rise of between 6% and 7%.

The company’s supermarket division posted quarterly sales of $5.4bn, up 11.3% year-on-year.

Woolworths revised its full-year EPS forecast to between 56 and 58 cents after goodwill, up from a previously forecast range of 56 to 57.5 cents. Before goodwill, the company forecast EPS of between 58.5 and 60.5 cents, compared to a previous forecast of between 58.5 and 60 cents.

Chief Executive Roger Corbett forecast full-year sales growth of around 12% and added that annual earnings rises would exceed sales growth.