UK supermarket retailer J Sainsbury has met analyst’s expectations with group pre-tax profit for the six-month period to 12 October 2002 reaching £342m (US$538m), compared to £309m in the same period last year.

Operating profit at the group’s Sainsbury’s supermarkets in the UK was £286m for the half-year, compared to £249m in the same period last year.

At the group’s Shaw’s supermarkets in the US, first-half underlying operating profit was US$110m, compared with $101m for the first-half of last year.

J Sainsbury’s chief executive, Peter Davis, cited the latest loyalty scheme Nectar as one of the reason for increased earnings at the group’s UK chain. Two months after its launch, Nectar already has over 11 million active card users in one third of UK households.

Davis also said that Sainsbury’s internet shopping and home delivery service “Sainsbury’s to You” had experienced a 90% growth in sales compared to the first half of last year, with orders running at over 33,000 a week. Losses have been reduced to £19m, compared to £29m in the same period last year, and the service is expected to become profitable in the latter part of 2003/04.