Safeway has posted positive second quarter like-for-like sales but said the protracted sale of the business had seen “lower levels” of support from suppliers.

For the 16 weeks to October 11, like-for-like sales edged up 0.7% compared to a fall of 0.6% in the first quarter.

Interim pre-tax profit fell 7.49% to £173m from £187m, which included £8m of additional pension costs.

Total sales for the first half rose 1.2% to £5.2bn.

Safeway said: “In present circumstances, it has become much more challenging for us to develop and drive new commercial initiatives together with our suppliers, given their understandable concerns about the future ownership of the business.

"Levels of support from suppliers therefore remain lower year-on-year.”

Chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez added that Safeway’s plans for the autumn and Christmas period would see “a pattern of stable trading”.