Supermarket retailer J Sainsbury has posted its fifth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, despite a 2.2% deflation in grocery, and said that business improvements it has made are paying dividends.

Like-for-like sales increased 5.3% for the fourth quarter of the company’s financial year, with yearly growth at 3.7%, excluding petrol. Total sales increased 6.5% during the quarter, and 5.8% for the year – also excluding petrol sales.

Sainsbury chief executive Justin King said: “This is an important stage in our recovery and we are pleased that our progress is also confirmed by good market share growth over the same period of time.

“We have delivered a solid first year and are on track in our Making Sainsbury’s Great Again plan but still have a long way to go. The sales growth announced today shows that customers are noticing the many improvements we have been making to our business.

The company’s SO organic range, launched last September, regained Sainsbury’s number one own-brand market position earlier this month.

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“In a market first we are also selling milk from British farms converting to organic standards. The rising demand for organic milk currently outstrips UK supply so we are working with farmers to cover the additional associated costs during conversion as well as offering 12-month supply contracts once the milk is organic,” added King.