J Sainsbury, the Britain's third-biggest supermarket group, has reported that its total sales for the fourth quarter rose 4.6 percent (5.1 per cent excluding fuel) beating analysts' forecasts as it won market share from rivals.

Like-for-like sales for fourth quarter increased 2.6 percent, for the year they rose 4.5 per cent. During the period the group invested over £85 million to make its fresh food better than ever and the investment is delivering good results.

The group remains focused on ensuring its values make it different and is making good progress against the commitments it set out in its 20 by 20 sustainability plan. As the largest Fairtrade retailer in the world, it has sold over £12 million of Fairtrade goods during Fairtrade Fortnight, 11 percent higher than the last year.

CEO Justin King says: "We delivered like-for-like sales of 2.6 per cent excluding fuel this quarter, completing a good performance for the year against a challenging backdrop. Our strategy of delivering universal customer appeal is succeeding in the current economic climate. Our unique own label ranges enable customers to save money when they need to and to treat themselves, their friends and families on special occasions. Our Nectar loyalty programme is a key source of customer insight, and we have signed a new long-term contract ensuring we retain this competitive advantage. We continue to outperform the market and gain market share."

The group's businesses are growing ahead of market and with difficult market conditions it is gaining market share in clothing and general merchandise.

Sainsbury expects the economic climate to likely remain challenging with the Diamond Jubilee, Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled ahead this FY and it expects these to underpin the group's continued growth as customers trust the brand to make their celebrations really special.