J Sainsbury is buying in freeholds amounting to just under 10% of its bigger stores in an effort to add more non-food space to the estate, as it reported upbeat trading figures. Financial Times, The Times, The Independnent

The retailer, which has promised to expand by 10% during the next three years in an effort to catch up with Tesco and Asda in its non-food offer, said it was investing £273m in a joint venture with British Land to buy back 39 retail sites – one of which belongs to Waitrose – with a value of £1.2bn.

The deal means Sainsbury can extend more than two dozen stores, adding about 500,000 sq ft of selling space. Sainsbury has pledged to add about 1.8m sq ft to its estate by March 2010.

Tesco, which has a much better property pipeline than any other of its competitors, is set to add 1.46m sq ft of selling space this year alone.

Sainsbury, which has been under pressure from Robert Tchenguiz to carry out a wider sale and leaseback on the portfolio, again signalled that it was not planning any big moves.