• Q1 total retail sales up 1%
  • Like-for-like sales down 1.1%
  • Clothing sales growing double-digit
Sainsbury is currently trialing a new online clothing offer

Sainsbury is currently trialing a new online clothing offer

UK retail group Sainsbury's says its clothing business continued to grow strongly in the first quarter, delivering double-digit like-for-like sales growth.

Total retail sales in the three month period edged up 1%, excluding fuel, but dropped 0.3% including. Like-for-like sales were down 1.1% excluding fuel, and slid 2.4% including.

Analysts believe the fall in like-for-like sales was largely as expected, and set against sluggish industry growth.

Nonetheless, chief executive Justin King said the group's general merchandise and clothing businesses showed strong growth in the quarter, and for clothing in particular, although it didn't provide sales figures.

The retailer is currently trialing a new online clothing offer, increasing the reach of this business to customers across the UK.

King, however, offered a cautious outlook for the remainder of the year. "We expect customer spending to remain cautious and we will continue to invest to keep our offer competitive to help customers balance their household budget. We remain confident that our clear strategy and differentiated offer will allow us to continue to outperform our supermarket peers through the remainder of the year."

Sainsbury's enters new territory in the second quarter, with Mike Coupe taking over the corporate reins as CEO from the long standing King.

Cantor analyst Mike Dennis noted: "Our view is that Sainsbury's new CEO, Mike Coupe, needs to continue with their value simplicity pricing strategy and convince suppliers that lower starting prices and lower promotional investment (weeks on deal and depth of price cuts) is the way forward."