Non-food sales rather than grocery sales are driving the supermarket industry across Europe, according to the latest research by Mintel.

The UK is leading the way in non-food ranges with Tesco and Asda particularly achieving good sales from this sector.

The report also showed that France’s Carrefour still leads the European supermarket industry, followed by Tesco. In addition to these, above average growth rates were recorded by Systeme U, Coop Italia, Waitrose and Casino.

Tesco posteda 54% rise in sales between 1999 and 2003 with a 65% increase in selling space. Meanwhile Wal-Mart Europe has turned a 32% rise in sales on a 10% increase in selling space, mainly due to its Asda operation in the UK.

France still has the largest food retail market in Europe worth some E184bn in 2003, followed by the UK with E144bn.

Sales across 19 European countries rose by 16% between 1999 and 2003, reaching more than E870bn. The survey predicts that the strongest performing sectors over the next five years are to be Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Spain.

The report also predicts that food retailers will increase their share of all retailing in eight countries - Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the UK.