Sainsbury’s has reported a rise in underlying profits of 18.5% for the past six months.

Half-year profits at the supermarket giant were £307m, while sales improved by 5.7% on a like-for-like basis, excluding fuel. Sainsbury’s said its Basics range maintained growth of more than 30% for the period, while overall revenues were up almost 4% to £11.16bn.

“Tight control on operating costs is enabling further investment in the customer offer and, together with our good sales performance, has delivered further strong profit growth,” said chief executive Justin King. “We now have over 18.5 million weekly customer transactions, 800,000 more than this time last year.”

King added: “Our strategy is now well established and has enabled us to compete successfully through challenging economic conditions. The time is right to accelerate our growth plans and in June we raised £432m to fund faster growth.”

But King warned that growth would slow in the second half of the year due to reduced food inflation.

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