Suppliers are increasingly turning to Sainsbury to launch products as they are wooed by the supermarket&'s improving sales, boss Justin King said this week.

The comment came as King revealed Sainsbury&'s sixth consecutive quarter of growth, with like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, for the first quarter to 17 June up 5.7% - its best result since Christmas 2002 and best relative performance since the early 1990s.

King said that Sainsbury had grown sales by £1bn since he kicked off his Making Sainsbury Great Again strategy. It must now add a further £1.5bn to sales by March 2008.
"This is the second quarter we&'ve been ahead of Tesco," added King.

Even with the boost of the World Cup and good weather in recent weeks stripped out, it said growth was similar to previous quarters at about 5.2% - still markedly ahead of Tesco&'s first quarter like-for-like sales, which were up 4.5% for the 13 weeks to 27 May.

King also said that Sainsbury was well on its way to achieving £400m of additional sales for its convenience division after it opened its 301st c-store during the last quarter. To meet this target it must open 50 c-stores a year, King told The Grocer.