• Q4 sales fall 1%
  • Like-for-like sales down 3.1%
  • Clothing and GM performing well
Sainsbury said its general merchandise and clothing business continues to perform well

Sainsbury said its general merchandise and clothing business continues to perform well

UK retail group Sainsbury's has ended its nine-year run of sales growth with a decline in fourth-quarter revenues, but says its clothing business continues to perform well.

In the 10 weeks ended 15 March, sales were down 1%, while like-for-like sales fell 3.1%, both excluding fuel. The retailer blamed a fall in food prices, the later timing of Easter and unseasonable weather. Its prior year quarter also benefited from the discovery of horsemeat in its competitors' products.

Prior to this quarter, Sainsbury's had reported 36 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth.

Nonetheless, the group said its general merchandise and clothing business continues to perform well, with particularly strong growth in menswear of over 23% year-on-year.

During the quarter Sainsbury announced the renewal of its collaboration with designer Gok Wan for a further 12 collections, in addition to releasing the eleventh collection of his ladies' wear.

The retailer has introduced its new general merchandise and clothing format into 53 stores, and has a further 26 planned for the first quarter.

"Although some economic indicators are showing an improvement in the health of the economy, we expect the outlook for customers to continue to be challenging for the coming year," said chief executive Justin King.

"We remain confident that our differentiated offer, supported by ‘value for values', Nectar data and Brand Match, will allow us to outperform our peers in the year ahead."