J Sainsbury, the UK’s third biggest supermarket group after Tesco and Walmart-owned Asda, reported a rise in sales over recent months - due in part to avoiding the horsemeat scandal. Sainsbury has a 17% market share and reported a 1.8% increase in like-for-like sales over the year excluding fuel.

Results were helped by a strong performance online - where sales were up almost 20% year-on-year - and by its convenience store business, which grew at over 18%.

Sainsbury’s, which says no traces of horsemeat have been found in its products, reported a 3.6% rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel over the 10 weeks to March 16. Its market share also increased during the period, as food inspectors identified horsemeat in products sold by rivals including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

Chief executive Justin King told Sky News: "Our sales have accelerated in the last couple of months. I think most customers are quite aware that a good number of retailers have not had horsemeat in their food and they're been rewarded with some extra business."

But Mr. King added that he feels a sense of "there, but for the grace of God" as the food contamination scandal continues. He said the supermarket has been DNA testing its products for over 10 years and uses only UK and Irish sourced beef in its products.

Sainsbury’s expanded its market share in the 12 weeks to March 17, while industry leader Tesco and No. four player Wm Morrison lost ground, according to Kantar World Panel.

Kantar also highlighted a continued squeeze on moderately priced supermarket brands, with up-market grocer Waitrose and discounter Aldi holding on to record shares of 4.8% and 3.3% respectively. "Continued pressure on household budgets has helped Aldi, Lidl and Iceland to record market-beating growth while Waitrose and Sainsbury's have managed to mostly avoid adverse media coverage from the horse meat scandal," said Kantar analyst Fraser McKevitt.

Sainsbury’s is rapidly expanding its convenience business with plans to open 50 Sainsbury's Local stores in London and the Southeast of England by early 2014 to give it 570 convenience stores.