Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-largest grocer, today (13 May) reported an 11% rise in annual profits and hailed its “good, better, best” product range for attracting more customers amid the downturn.

The company booked underlying pre-tax profits of GBP543m (US$830.5m) for the year to 21 March, a rise of 11.3%.

Total sales rose 5.7% to GBP20.38bn, while Sainsbury’s saw its like-for-like sales climb by 4.5%.

A fall in property values meant that, on a reported basis, Sainsbury’s pre-tax profits fell from GBP479m last year to GBP466m.

Nevertheless, Sainsbury’s said it plans to push on with the expansion of its convenience store network. Fifty new stores are planned during this fiscal year, with a further 100 outlets earmarked for the following year.

Chief executive Justin King said growing Sainsbury’s convenience business was one of five “areas of focus”.

“Our progress in the last four years has made the company a stronger business with a wide customer base and universal appeal. We are performing well and have significant opportunities for further growth.”

Sainsbury’s shares rose when the market opened this morning but were down 1.6% at 334.75p at 09:28 BST.

(For comment from Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King on today’s results and the retailer’s success amid the downturn, click here).