Tesco has moved to defend its first-quarter sales, after they left the City disappointed this week.

The group reported 4.7% like-for-like sales growth, a slowdown from 5.8% growth in the previous quarter and at the lower end of analysts' expectations.

But corporate and legal affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe told The Grocer: "We have made a strong start to the year. As far as we are concerned we are above budget. Our like-for-like sales were more than we did in the first quarter of last year [4.5%]. And when you look at our total growth of 8%, excluding petrol, this is a good figure."

Meanwhile, Sainsbury's recorded a like-for-like sales increase of 5.1%, excluding fuel, for the three months to 16 June, just below City expectations. Chief executive Justin King said Sainsbury's first-quarter had to contend with tough comparatives as last year's trading included the start of the World Cup and good weather.

King aadded he was not worred about the prospect of a takeover bid from Qatari fund Delta Two - which triggered speculation when it raised its stake to 25% last week.

"[Delta Two] some months ago said they were admirers of Sainsbury's and supporters of our plans for the future," said King.

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