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LONDON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - J Sainsbury, Britain's No. 3 supermarket, beat forecasts with a 5.4 percent rise in first-half profit, helped by the development of its online and convenience stores business, the two fastest growing grocery channels in the UK.
The group, which has enjoyed 31 consecutive quarters of underlying sales growth, is continuing to outshine industry leader Tesco, which last month posted a 12.4 percent fall in first half UK trading profit. No. 2 player Asda is due to update on its third quarter on Thursday.
Sainsbury said on Wednesday it made profit before tax and one-off items of 373 million pounds ($593 million)in the 28 weeks to Sept. 29.
That compares with analysts' consensus forecast of 371 million pounds, according to a company poll, and 354 million pounds made in the same period last year.
Industry data has shown Sainsbury sustaining market share gains from rivals into the second half as it also benefits from the success of its "Brand Match" pricing initiative, higher penetration of own-label food ranges and increased sales of non-food products.
The group has also enjoyed a boost to its profile from its sponsorship of the London Paralympic Games.
First half sales rose 4 percent to 13.37 billion pounds. Last month the firm posted better-than-expected second quarter underlying sales growth.