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Tu boss takes control of clothing as fashion sales rocket at Sainsbury's

Tu buying and design director Adrian Mountford has been appointed as business unit director of Sainsbury's soaring clothing division, with fashion set to be given more space in stores next year.

Mountford will replace Richard Jones, who was promoted to business unit director for general merchandise last December. His remit will now include store development, marketing, logistics and HR.

Mountford told Drapers that his strategy will be to adopt a "holistic" view of the business. "Like-for-like sales are very healthy and sales density is growing all the time," he said. "My role will be to concentrate on driving the brand forward, by adding new categories as clothing is given more space."

Sainsbury's newest clothing categories include petite and plus-size ranges, which will launch for spring 08 (Drapers, July 14).

Mountford said a handful of new stores, which are due to open next summer, would have 15,000sq ft areas dedicated to clothing. At present, Tu's largest in-store selling space stands at 10,000sq ft in about 18 Sainsbury's stores.

The supermarket said that the additional space for the Tu range will give the brand greater opportunities to develop its visual merchandising, including using mannequins, experimenting with the height of fixtures and using more PoS in store.

"Depending on the success of these stores, we may look to dedicate that much space to clothing in other stores over the next three to five years," said Mountford.

The supermarket set out targets earlier this year to grow its sales by £3.5 billion over the next three years, a third of which will come from non-food.

Performance in womenswear has been particularly strong this season, with sales up 80% compared with last spring. According to the supermarket, more fashionable product has helped to improve performance in womenswear, particularly the current trend for longer-line tops in both knitted and woven categories.

But Mountford said menswear had a stronger percentage growth on last season, up 116%.

Mountford will report to Sainsbury's trading director Mike Coupe. Coupe said the supermarket has an "ambitious growth programme" for Tu and that Mountford's experience in terms of product development, sourcing and design would be essential in realising that aim.

Mountford, who previously worked at Bhs as kidswear buying director, joined Sainsbury's in December 2005 as buying and design director.

The supermarket group has not yet found a replacement to take over his former role.

TU ON THE RISE

Tu's sales for spring 07, compared with spring 06

Women's swimwear up 234%

Women's knitwear up 203%

Women's footwear up 153%

Lingerie up 103%

Girlswear up 83%

Babywear up 64%.

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