UK supermarket group Sainsbury’s has said the company’s recovery plan is running ahead of schedule.

Addressing the company’s AGM, held today (11 July), chairman Philip Hampton said: “We have delivered another strong performance and our recovery is ahead of plan. Since March 2005, we have grown sales by an additional GBP1.8bn (US$3.7bn) with over GBP1bn delivered in the last financial year.

“This means that we are ahead of our target to grow sales by GBP2.5bn by March 2008. It is especially pleasing that this strong sales performance is increasingly reflected in improved profits. Our underlying profit before tax for the year was GBP380m, an increase of 42.3% on the previous year.” 

CEO Justin King told shareholders that the company had increased like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, by 5.9% over the year, delivering its ninth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth in the final quarter. “This result represented growth on growth on growth and demonstrated continued improvement and momentum,” King said. “We have already announced our quarter one results for 2007/08 demonstrating this momentum has been maintained.”

Store extension and opening plans were also confirmed. King said the retailer intends to extend a further 75 stores by March 2010, and is also actively seeking and developing a pipeline of new stores, with a target to grow space by 10% over the next three years, split equally across grocery and non-food ranges.