Resurgent supermarket chain Sainsbury's posted its sixth successive quarter of sales growth yesterday, as its recovery plan remained on track.
The supermarket giant said like-for-like sales excluding petrol were up 5.7 per cent in the 12 weeks to June 17.
Chief executive Justin King added that trading in the last couple of weeks was particularly strong thanks to warmer weather and the World Cup.
"People tend to eat more fresh food when the sun is shining," he noted.
The firm had sold "a lot of beer, pizza - anything that's easy, quick eating...when people are in front of the telly watching football," he added.
"We're hoping to be able to sell a lot of champagne."
Like-for-like sales, including petrol, were ahead 7.1 per cent in the quarter, while total sales on Sainsbury's
forecourts and in its stores and online were up 8.1 per cent.
The boost in first quarter sales came after Sainsbury's managed to turn the first loss in the company's history into profits last year.
The loss came as the company was rocked by dwindling sales and profits as Asda and Tesco in particular took control of the UK grocery market.
Mr King was brought in to revive the fortunes of the struggling supermarket and launched a three-year recovery plan called Making Sainsbury's Great Again.
It included the recruitment of more staff and the launch of the Try Something New Today campaign spearheaded by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
Mr King said: "This quarter is a good start to the second year of our Making Sainsbury's Great Again plan.
"We are now providing a much better and more consistent shopping experience. We have listened to customers and responded to what's important to them.
"We've continued our investment in lower prices, raised quality standards and developed new products, and our sales performance continues to reflect the restored confidence customers now have in our ability to deliver great products at fair prices."
Mr King said the like-for-like sales growth in its stores of 5.7 per cent was ahead of the rest of the grocery market, as Sainsbury's continued its battle for second place with Asda.
The most recent market research from TNS showed that Sainsbury's had a 16 per cent share of the market while Asda took 16.4 per cent and Tesco plundered a massive 31.1 per cent.
But Mr King said he was confident the recovery of Sainsbury's could continue.
"A combination of warm weather and additional sales of products related to the World Cup, where Sainsbury's is official supermarket of the England football team, has led to a particularly good trading performance during the past
couple of weeks, after the sector generally experienced a slower level of growth after Easter," said Mr King.
"Going forward we are up against tougher comparatives and the market continues to be very competitive, although we continue to believe our under-lying sales performance can achieve the goal outlined in our Making Sainsbury's Great Again plan."
Retail analyst Richard Ratner, of Seymour Pierce, said like-for-like sales growth of 5.7 per cent was ahead of his forecast of 5.5 per cent.
But he warned that further progress at Sainsbury's was "unlikely to grow as fast as some are expecting".
And the City expressed concerns over a lack of news on profits margin and earnings.
Keith Bowman, of Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "Trading momentum continues to build and these are top-of-the-range sales figures.
"The group still has much to prove."