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Sainsbury's clothing continues to grow faster than food

Sainsbury’s general merchandise and clothing continues to grow faster than its food business, despite a challenging market in the last year.

The supermarket, which posted preliminary results for the 52 weeks to March 17 this morning, reported 38% growth in schoolwear sales on the year. In sold over 100,000 pairs of trousers and over 140,000 polo shirts in best week.

The overall non-food market was challenging throughout the year, though Sainsbury’s has continued to grow ahead of the market. Its TU clothing range remains the UK’s seventh-largest clothing brand by volume, while it has edged up to sixth-largest retailer for kidswear, from seventh place last year.

Around 161 Sainsbury’s stores now sell clothing and general merchandise - 22 more than last year.

TV presenter Gok Wan’s collections for TU, which launched last October, have now been rolled out to more than 200 stores.

In its 2011 results, Sainsbury’s sales of non-food was growing at more three times the rate of its food business. Last year’s growth was driven by kidswear, menswear and its Back to School range.

Overall, Sainsbury’s underlying pre-tax profits rose 7.1% to £712m in the year to March 17, against a rise in sales of 6.8% to £24.51bn.

The retailer said it will slow its rate of store expansion from just over 7% to 5% in the current financial year.

Sainsbury’s expects the market to remain tough and has forecast like-for-like sales in 2012/13 similar to those in

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