Sainsbury’s convenience business delivered total sales growth of nearly 7% in the fourth quarter, when the group opened 10 Sainsbury’s Locals, the retail giant has reported.

The group also refurbished 11 convenience stores, making the nine weeks to 11 March the most active period of the year to date in terms of total combined openings and refurbishments.

The activity takes the total number of Local openings in 2016/17 to 41, eight closures and 12 refurbishments.

Sainsbury’s had 806 convenience stores, including seven franchise outlets at the end of the quarter.

Total Sainsbury’s retail sales climbed 0.1% in the quarter, excluding fuel and the impact of the pharmacy business sale. Like-for like retail sales fell 0.5% excluding fuel.

Mike Coupe, group chief executive, said the overall business was making good progress against its key priorities and customers appreciated the “quality, choice and value” of its differentiated food offer.

The retailer extended its pre-prepared vegetable range with new products including butternut squash waffles and sweet potato tagliatelle.

“The market remains very competitive and the impact of cost price pressures remains uncertain. However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy,” Coupe said.