J Sainsbury, the supermarkets group, is trying to close the gap with its rivals by launching its long-awaited range of non-food items.
The company, which recently lost its number two supermarket slot to Asda, also has department stores in its sights with the new range of homeware and cookware products. It hopes the move will silence critics of the pace of the recovery plan lead by Sir Peter Davis, its chief executive.
Products ranging from kitchen pans and bed linen to DVD players and dinner services would form the mainstay of its attack on the non-food market, where it currently has a mere 0.6 per cent share. The new ranges will be available in 220 supermarkets by the end of next month. Sainsbury's is also bolstering its health and beauty offering - developed after a close relationship with Boots broke down - by adding a further 1,500 lines.
"Customers increasingly want supermarkets to offer other ranges and services in addition to their core food offer," Sir Peter said. The new non-food range will span soft furnishings, cookware, bedding and home and bathroom accessories, while the group's existing ranges of home entertainment products, books and toys will be extended. It was on display in an initial 12 stores yesterday and the company plans to build a "dedicated home area" in 80 stores by the end of the current financial year.
The impetus for the new collection has come from Keith Evans, the B&Q and Marks & Spencer veteran poached last year as head of non-food.