Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-largest grocer, today (25 March) posted a 4.5% in annual revenues after seeing sales growth accelerate during the final quarter of its fiscal year.

The company, which has seen sales hold up well during the downturn, said like-for-like sales excluding fuel rose 4.5% during the year to 21 March.

Fourth-quarter like-for-like sales excluding fuel were up 6.2%, compared to 4.5% growth during the company’s third quarter to 3 January.

Chief executive Justin King said Sainsbury’s had put in a “strong performance” during the final quarter of the year.

“These sales reflect the strength and resilience of the Sainsbury’s brand as we have continued to develop our offer to help customers get the best value from their household budgets,” King said.

Sainsbury’s has enjoyed success with its “Switch and Save” campaign, has promoted its own-label products against some of the branded lines in its stores.

King said sales of Sainsbury’s “entry price-point” Basics range had jumped 60% year-on-year but he claimed the retailer’s customers were also “increasingly concerned” about ethical issues.

“We have worked hard to provide this in our delivery of universal appeal,” King said. “In January we doubled our range of higher welfare pork and all our own-brand pork sausages, including ‘basics’, are made from British meat.”

King added: “In February we became the first major retailer to stop selling eggs laid by battery hens and we have recently expanded the choice of higher welfare chicken with the launch of our new Freedom Food range.”

Sainsbury’s shares stood at 326p at 09:41 GMT this morning, down 1.4%. The company will announce its full-year preliminary results on 13 May.