Increased sales have led to a jump in annual profits at Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-largest grocer.

The company today (14 May) booked underlying pre-tax profit of GBP488m (US$948m) for the 12 months to 22 March, up 28.4% on the year.

Including one-off charges, ranging from costs incurred during last year’s aborted takeover of Sainsbury’s by Qatar-backed fund Delta Two to the inquiry into price-fixing in the UK dairy sector, pre-tax profit inched up 0.4% to GBP479m.

Revenue was up 5.8% to GBP19.3bn, with like-for-like sales excluding fuel rising 3.9%.

Chief executive Justin King said Sainsbury’s had “fulfilled the commitments” the company made when it launched its turnaround strategy – dubbed Making Sainsbury’s Great Again – in 2004.

He said: “We have now reported 13 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth and achieved GBP2.7bn additional sales by March 2008 against the original stretching target of GBP2.5bn. This is a great achievement in a challenging market.

“Our sales growth is also reflected in substantially improved profits and operational gearing is coming through. We have good momentum as we now focus on taking Sainsbury’s from recovery to growth.”