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Sainsbury's vows to take on high street with trendier Tu

Sainsbury's clothing market share for its Tu range is on target to reach 1% before the end of the year, as it prepares to square up to the high street with a directional autumn 07 collection and new store concept.

Buying and design director Adrian Mountford said Tu, which held its first ever catwalk show for its autumn 07 range in London last Tuesday, now had a market share of 0.8%, up from 0.7% for the 24 weeks to February 4, and that it would hit 1% "well before the end of the year". In comparison, Asda has a 4% market share and Tesco has 2.6%, according to Verdict Research.

The supermarket is also planning to introduce clothing to more of its stores, while developing a new concept for general merchandise.

Mountford said: "As we grow the Tu brand, it's not just about developing product. I'd love to get clothing into all 500 stores but there isn't the space. We will be introducing Tu to more stores and we're working on a new store design, which is in its infancy. Shoppers now come to Sainsbury's for the clothing and then do their food shopping - the foodies love Tu."

He added that Tu had developed considerably since launching in 2004. "It has become more directional and trend-led - we felt it was the right time to have a catwalk show," he said.

Mountford added that Tu was aiming to take on the high street rather than its supermarket rivals or other value retailers. "We don't pitch ourselves against Primark and throwaway fashion," he said. "We cater mainly for the 30-plus market, which looks for quality and more sophistication."

Menswear buying manager Mark Baxter said the Tu customer also shopped at Next. "Formalwear is our biggest growing area, so we've really focused on our suiting range for autumn 07," he explained.

Dresses are key in the womenswear range, with 1960s-inspired shifts, pinafores and teal dresses, while smock tops, tunics, swing jackets and leggings also feature in a palette of turquoise, purple and mustard prints and florals.

The menswear collection is a mix of tailoring and casual pieces, with a focus on suiting and outerwear.

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