Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-largest grocer, saw its sales growth accelerate in its second quarter as it “outperformed” its competitors.

The company booked a 5% increase in total sales for the 16 weeks to 28 September, or 4.6% excluding fuel. Like-for-like sales were up 2.1% and by 2% without fuel sales.

For the first half of its financial year, sales grew 4.4% and by 4% after stripping out fuel. Like-for-like sales increased 1.5%, or 1.4% excluding fuel.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said the company had posted “strong” sales for the quarter, “continuing to outperform the market”.

“Our own-brand offer continues to grow at over twice the rate of branded goods, with Taste the Difference growing particularly strongly and by Sainsbury’s performing well following its relaunch,” he said.

“Our groceries online business grew by over 15 per cent in the quarter and is now worth over GBP1bn in annual sales. Our convenience business grew 20% year-on-year as customers topped up more frequently during the warm summer weather.”

Shares in Sainsbury’s were down 1.64% at 383.8p.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: “Investors continue to tread with caution. Intense competition, prior over expansion and margins pressured by rising commodity prices, fuelled by Central Bank printing of money, have all left the sector less defensive in nature than once considered. Sainsbury has emerged as something of a winner, although slim margins and a potentially resurgent Tesco add nerves, with analyst opinion currently pointing towards a hold.”

Click here for the full statement from Sainsbury’s.