Profits at Sainsbury’s were up more than a third in the past six months due to a series of property deals.

The supermarket said pre-tax profits were up 36% for the first half of the year to £466m. But underlying profits were up just 8% over the period to £332m.

Like-for-like sales rose by 2% over the 28 weeks to 2 October. Total sales hit £11.94bn, up 4.8% excluding fuel.

The chain added 540,000 sq ft of retail space over the six-month period and said it was on track to grow floor space by 8% over the year as a whole.

“Sainsbury's has continued to outperform, as we offer healthy, fresh and tasty food at great value and continue to grow our new space,” said chief executive Justin King (pictured).

“Customer numbers are now at an all-time high of over 20 million transactions every week, up one million on last year, which is a clear indication of our growing universal customer appeal.

He added: “We now have over 340 convenience stores, online sales are growing by over 25% and Sainsbury’s Bank has delivered strong profit growth.”

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