Sainsbury’s today announced that sales during its fourth quarter of trading were boosted to 5.9%, excluding fuel, in results that are likely to confirm its acquisition eligibility.

The supermarket beat forecasts of between 4 and 5.5%, which is expected to increase its full-year profit by £15 million to £382m. Chief executive Justin King said the second phase of Sainsbury’s recovery plan – involving re-branding, stores refresh, restructuring its IT suppliers and overhauling it supply chain systems and e-commerce platforms – had exceeded expectations.

The company has been subject to the acquisitive interests of private equity firms CVC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Blackstone and Texas Pacific Group for over a month now and the takeover watchdog has set a deadline of 13 April for bids to be finalised.