With just days to go before Sainsbury delivers its interim results (Wednesday November 19), chief executive Sir Peter Davis has delivered an upbeat assessment of the troubled multiple’s prospects.

Speaking at the British Council for Shopping Centres’ annual conference in Birmingham last week, he said that its £2bn investment in its supply chain was beginning to pay off and that he was “optimistic” that it would soon turn around the 0.2% sales slump announced last month.

Sir Peter also signalled a strategic shift towards developing more mixed-use and regeneration schemes in town centres, following the success of schemes such as Pimlico, which includes a residential element that is half social housing. “We need two things,” he said. “First, to sell quality food in the right location and second, a stable and clear planning system that recognises the contribution that retailers can make in run down areas.”

Urging the government “to play its part”, he said: “We need a faster system that means instead of getting planning consent in six to 12 years, we’d have it in six to 12 months.”

The company refused to comment on whether it would use its interim results to announce a new clothes designer for its adult range, after it tore up its contract with Jeff Banks. It did however confirm that it was reviewing its strategy and that it would launch a new offer next Autumn.

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