Sainsbury’s has reported a sales increase of more than 6% in its convenience estate in its preliminary annual results, as it grew the number of Local stores by 41 to 605 over the year.

In the 52 weeks to 11 March 2017 the grocery multiple announced a 0.6% drop in like-for-like retail sales excluding fuel, while total sales increased by 12.7% mainly as a result of its acquisition of Argos.

However, pre-tax profits dropped by 8.2% to £503m owing to product investment and cost inflation.

And while it focused on c-store openings, Sainsbury’s only opened six supermarkets over the year, bringing the total to 605 large stores. Supermarket sales fell by nearly 2%.

Chief executive Mike Coupe said: “Our food business remains resilient in a challenging market and we continue to innovate in quality and to invest in price. We are also investing in growth areas of the business to meet the changing ways that customers shop.

“Sainsbury’s design-led General Merchandise and Clothing both outperformed the market and we saw strong growth in Sainsbury’s Groceries Online and Convenience channels.

“We are pleased with the progress made since we acquired Argos. We have opened 59 Argos Digital stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets and they are performing well. We are therefore accelerating our plan to open a total of 250 Argos Digital stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets and will deliver our £160m EBITDA synergy target by March 2019, six months ahead of schedule.”