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Sainsbury’s to take £1m hit on fair trade T-shirts

Sainsbury’s will increase its order of fair trade cotton tenfold for its Tu brand and will take a £1 million hit on margin to retain its low prices.

The supermarket will convert almost two million T-shirts to fair trade cotton by January, including all of its men’s T-shirts, half of the women’s range and a quarter of its jersey collections.

Sainsbury’s said that its T-shirts would continue to retail at £3 to encourage sales, and that the price freeze would amount to a £1m hit on margin. The order equates to 420 tonnes of fair trade cotton from West Africa, equivalent to 1.8m T-shirts.

This order is expected to rise by a further 50% next year. Two years ago, the retailer’s fair trade cotton order amounted to just 40 tonnes.

Sainsbury’s also intends to strengthen its Tu senior management team, after appointing David Francis as buying and merchandise director this week. He has been working for Tu on a consultancy basis as merchandise director since 2004.

The supermarket is also looking for a product development director to work alongside Francis. It is a new role, reporting to Tu’s business unit director Adrian Mountford.

Sainsbury’s posted is second-quarter results this week. Like-for-like sales excluding fuel rose 3.1% for the 16 weeks to October 6. Total sales excluding fuel grew by 4.7%, which helped to push the retailer’s like-for-like sales ahead by 4% for the first half.

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