Sainsbury's to boost online service

Supermarket group Sainsbury's today announced plans to more than double the number of stores offering its "click & collect" service in a bid to boost non-food sales.

Under the ambitious expansion plans, the group aims to increase the number of stores where click & collect is available from 300 now, to 400 stores during June, and more than 800 by Christmas.

It has already doubled the number of stores that offer the service since March, and it is understood that the latest expansion will include rolling out click & collect to its smaller convenience stores, as well as its large supermarkets.

The service enables customers to buy non-food items online, and then arrange a time to collect them from their local store the next day.

The group hopes the expansion of the service will boost the sale of non-food items, such as homewares and electrical goods.

Sainsbury's has previously announced plans to increase its non-food division to account for 45% of sales by 2020, up from around 25% today.

Helen Buck, Sainsbury's director of convenience, said: "General merchandise is a key area of focus for Sainsbury's and we are enjoying growth rates of 20% in some areas.

"Sainsbury's growth is well documented and services such as click & collect will play an increasingly crucial role in this.

"Over a third of our non-food online sales come through click & collect and this exciting expansion will make it even easier to take advantage of the service."

The group launched its non-food website in July 2009, and now offers 15,000 products online, ranging from Le Creuset cookware to Apple iPods.

Non-food sales are currently growing at three times the rate of food ones.

Sainsbury's recently posted a 9% rise in annual profits to £665 million, after sales rose by 7.1% to £22.9 billion in the year to March 19.

Within the total, its online grocery delivery business grew by 20%, while its Sainsbury's Local convenience stores broke through the £1 billion sales barrier for the first time.