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Sainbury’s profits up 5.3% as clothing sales growth outstrips food

Sainsbury’s has reported a 5.3% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to £798m for the year to March 15, as general merchandise and clothing sales increase at more than twice the rate of food.

Underlying group sales were up 2.8% to £26.35bn while retail sales rose 2.7%. Like-for-like sales including VAT and excluding petrol climbed 0.2%.

Sainsbury’s clothing brand Tu now generates annual sales of £750m and its relaunch in August was the supermarket’s biggest investment in the clothing business since 2004.

The latest figures were chief executive Justin King’s last full-year update before he steps down in July.

King said conditions in the food sector would remain “challenging”.

He added: “We remain committed to investing for the future and continue to see significant opportunities for growth. We remain confident that our differentiated offer, supported by the ‘value of values’, Nectar data and Brand Match, will allow us to outperform our peers in the year ahead.”

Sainsbury’s said it expects profit consensus for 2014/15 to remain at around £762m.

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