He told The Grocer that as Sainsbury continued to attract more customers, suppliers would benefit from increased sales and would be asked for improved terms. "We can now deliver future growth for suppliers. We'll continue to be price competitive, so we need to drive out costs."
The comments came as Sainsbury reported its fifth consecutive quarter of growth and first growth-on-growth period since King took over in 2004, with like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, up 5.3% for the 12 weeks to March 25.
"We're definitely ahead in sales - we didn't think we'd be reporting 5% like-for-likes in a market of 1-2%. We're going to be one of the best figures out there, if not the best," said King.
One supplier said the state of the market was a real concern. "All the supermarkets are following each other. We see our cost base increasing, but it's harder to recoup when food keeps getting cheaper for consumers."