Sainsbury has seen its second quarter like-for-like sales growth slow to 2.5% but remains confident in a difficult market and amid efforts to improve its ambitious infrastructure programme.

This was a drop of 0.6% compared to the first quarter and for the 16 weeks to October 12 Sainsbury’s said total supermarket sales grew 3.9%.

Group chief executive, Sir Peter Davis, said: "In Sainsbury's supermarkets we are continuing to make solid progress on sales in a period of significant internal change and despite a slower market.”

In the US Shaw's supermarkets business saw like-for-like sales growth of 2%.

Davis added that the new Nectar loyalty programme is starting to have an impact. “In the first week enough cards were picked up to cater for 40% of UK households and we believe its introduction will have a positive long-term effect on our business.”

"This, together with benefits being achieved through our store reinvigoration programme, leads us to expect a stronger second half."

The programme includes updating product ranges and stores, as well as improving the supply chain and IT. Sir Peter said the target of £200m savings this year would be met.