Feb 23, 2017
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Sainsbury's tasks Portas with making Tu a destination brand

Feb 23, 2017

UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is giving an extra boost to its expanding Tu fashion brand with a specialist agency appointed to handle its general merchandise advertising for the first time. The agency will also help the retailer launch a new homewares brand this year as it seeks to accelerate the growth of its non- food business.

Tu has been a star performer for Sainsbury's

The company has appointed the Portas Agency, the firm headed by celebrity retail consultant Mary Portas, to oversee creative work for both clothing and homewares. Her brief is to turn Tu into a high street destination brand while also helping Sainsbury’s launch the new interiors brand, Sainsbury’s Home, which encompasses all the supermarket’s existing home collections.

Portas said the investment in building the Tu and Sainsbury’s Home brands “reflects the business’ ambition for general merchandise and Portas has developed a long-term creative strategy that will roll out over many seasons to come.”

The move comes as Sainsbury’s seeks growth opportunities outside of its core area. The UK supermarket sector continues to be challenging as margins on foods stay at historically low levels.

The retailer has put major investment into expanding the Tu brand in the last year and in an unusual move for a supermarket label, launched the Tu Premium line last autumn. It said it wanted to rival brands such as Whistles and Hobbs but at supermarket prices.

It also added more men’s formalwear at slightly higher prices than usual with pieces such as Harris Tweed jackets.

This all helped Tu continue its impressive growth trajectory in 2016 with the most recent set of Sainsbury’s results seeing a 10% leap for the brand, the firm’s CEO calling the rise “exceptional”.

That growth has helped make Sainsbury’s the sixth biggest clothing vendor on a volume basis in Britain, despite it having been a relative latecomer to sector, and a key player in kidswear. It claims a larger kidswear market share than high street rival M&S.

Sainsbury's claims a larger kidswear market share than M&S

The Sainsbury’s plan to boost Tu comes as the UK sees major evolution at the lower end of the price scale. Tesco is also working to raise the profile of its F&F line, which it said outperformed the market over the recent Christmas period. It has appointed a creative agency to work on a strategy with the first results due this spring.

Meanwhile low-price specialists are moving in on the budget fashion area that the giant supermarkets once claimed as their own. This month Poundland started rolling out its in-store Pep & Co areas after a successful trial, with all items selling for under £10. And Lidl has also widened the scope of its fashion offer, adding accessories for the first time this season.

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