Sainsbury has slipped further behind its supermarket rivals as it revealed a 0.2% decline in like-for-like sales including petrol for the second quarter.

The UK’s third largest supermarket group also revealed that total UK sales were down from 2% in the first quarter to 1.2% for the 16 weeks to October 11.

Group chief executive Sir Peter Davis said the disappointing sales reflected disruption caused by its transformation programme of revamping its supply chain and modernising stores. He said this would be “largely complete” by 2004.

Sir Peter noted that four new distribution centres would be on-stream in the next few weeks and he expects 70% of its volume to go through the new network by summer 2004.

Sainsbury will review “key strands” of its programme when it releases half-year results on November 19, “three years on from the launch of its transformation programme”.

The company said it was on target to deliver £250m in savings this year and £700m in total by March 2004.

In the US its Shaw’s supermarkets like-for-like sales growth halved to 0.4% compared to the first quarter, while total sales were up 2.6% from 1.1%.