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Sainsbury’s Tu ups the fashion ante for its 10th anniversary

Sainsbury’s Tu is celebrating its 10th anniversary by presenting a more trend-led range, in a “fashion environment” for autumn 14.

The supermarket’s fashion brand, which is currently the seventh largest by volume and 11th by value in the UK according to Kantar figures, will take more of an “advisory” approach to its merchandising in store, said James Brown, non-food trading director at Sainsbury’s.

“The customer feedback told us shoppers wanted advice on how to pull outfits together so our displays this season will be in much more of a fashion environment. We are confident in our trends so we want to give our stories clarity and help customers to pick up full looks,” he said.

Brown said the fashion arm had moved to 11th place in the rankings in value from 15th in the last 12 months and he has an ambition to be in the top 10 by 2015.

The 1,500-piece womenswear range takes inspiration from catwalk trends featuring the folk inspired ‘Babushka’ collection, launching next week, and 1960s silhouettes with A-line skirts and tunics. On menswear the 500-piece range has a “stronger design influence” with clearer stories for shoppers including the “Woodsman” which has a Nordic theme featuring patterned knitwear and fur-lined parkas.

Kidswear is a “key category” for the company in terms of growth for this season.

John Carolan head of buying kidswear and menswear said: “It’s our biggest season for kidswear, it’s a milestone for thinking of what kids need - jackets, knits - as they are growing every year. It’s about value and quality. We want to drive sales through our full price proposition, we don’t need to discount this type of product.”

Brown said Tu had invested “heavily” in its design team across all categories over the last 12 months, doubling the number of designers to 30.

Last week Sainsbury’s launched its online pilot for Tu to 200 customers in the Midlands. He said the online trial would test the logistics and mechanics of the website and the online platform would go live across the UK in 2015.

“We want to test the appetite for trading online; it gives insight on how people want to buy our product. If the results are right we will go to scale next year.”

Brown said the convenience of buying clothing in the supermarket has driven the popularity of value fashion. “People are shopping for groceries twice a week and a compelling non-food offer will tempt them to buy. It’s very convenient and we’re very focused on developing the designs that customers want.”

Click HERE to view Sainsburys / TU Clothing jobs on Drapers

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