LONDON, April 19 Sainsbury's, Britain's
second largest supermarket group, is aiming to for a slice of
the growing "Athleisure" casual sports clothing market through a
partnership with U.S. brand Russell Athletic, it said on
Sainsbury's already sells clothing under the Tu own brand,
but has stepped up diversification away from its traditional
base in food retailing. Last year, it purchased Argos- and
Habitat-owner Home Retail for 1.1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion),
securing another avenue of non-food growth while also enhancing
its online logistics operations.
The deal with Russell Athletic, part of Berkshire Hathaway's
Fruit of the Loom Inc, will put the U.S. company's
men's and women's clothing, as well as men's bags, on
Sainsbury's Tu clothing website.
It marks the first time Sainsbury's female customers are
able to buy branded clothing alongside the supermarket's Tu
range. For men, it follows the group's first branded partnership
with leisurewear company Admiral in stores and online in 2015.
Sales of "Athleisure" - sports and gym wear - have grown 42
percent over the past seven years and the UK market is worth 7
billion pounds, according to research by Morgan Stanley.
Sainsbury's has expanded Tu aggressively with its sales
growing 15 percent over the last two years.
Sainsbury's is currently Britain's sixth biggest clothing
retailer by volume and its tenth biggest by value.
Sainsbury's main rivals - market leader Tesco, Asda
and Morrisons also sell various clothing ranges.
($1 = 0.7780 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Jane Merriman)