Non-food lifts J Sainsbury

J SAINSBURY yesterday reported a sales rise in the second quarter as it pinned its hopes on catching Asda by rapidly expanding store space.

The UK’s third largest chain behind Tesco and Asda, said non-food items were fuelling its performance.

Sainsbury’s saw a 2.9 per cent like-for-like increase in sales in the period, which also saw the opening of its largest ever store in Kent. And a total of 266,000 sq feet of new floorspace was opened in the period.

Sainsbury’s said its non-food business was growing at three times the rate of food, with its Tu clothing rage “leading the charge” in sales. Its online sales were also performing well, increasing by 25 per cent in the period.

Chief executive Justin King said the boost in floorspace at the chain would help it to outstrip rival Asda, despite its rival recently acquiring the Netto chain.

King said Sainsbury’s was “a good way ahead” of its rivals with its sales lift.

He said the chain was performing well in a “challenging consumer climate”, and that he was not expecting any significant impact when public spending cuts kick-in because people had already prepared themselves and changed their spending habits where necessary.

“Consumers are already dialled in to what is happening. They have been for a long time now,” King said.

He said a reduction in petrol prices had given some relief to cash-strapped families and put more money back in their pockets. Sainsbury’s said its back to school clothes were flying off the shelves while fair trade goods were also on the march with growth of 25 per cent for the second quarter.