City analysts came away from a company visit last week impressed by the improvements Sainsbury’s is making in non-food.

Investors and analysts toured Sainsbury’s first 100,000 sq ft store, at Crayford, on the border of London and Kent, last week.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said: “The apparel range, Tu, gains authority and breadth with each season. It still has progress to make but its development to date has both surprised and impressed us.”

Black said he saw the greatest advance in categories such as cookware and homewares.

Jefferies analyst James Grzinic said progress in developing the offer was evident across the store, in food and general merchandise.

He pointed to an emphasis on freshly prepared food, a relaunch of the By Sainsbury’s own-label and more assisted selling in non-food.

Sainsbury’s also hinted it could open a nationwide chain of about 1,000 Fresh Kitchen sandwich shops following the opening of a trial store on Fleet Street last month.

Black said such innovations have been developed under recently appointed business development director Darren Shapland.