Sainsbury’s continues to build on its general merchandising success with annual sales breaking through the £1bn mark for the first time.

The company, which enjoyed general merchandise sales growth of more than a third over Christmas compared to the previous year, announced the division was growing at three times the rate of food.

Roger Burnley, Sainsbury’s managing director general merchandise, clothing and logistics, credited the careful selection of new lines as one of the factors behind the success of the range which includes homeware, cookware, and domestic appliances.

Over the past year cookware has grown at 16% - 100,000 frying pans were sold in the run up to Pancake Day – while sales of small electrical goods grew by 21%.

The company, which has direct sourcing offices for general merchandise in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Bangladesh, said there was “huge potential” for continued growth, given that fewer than one in five Sainsbury’s supermarkets have a full non-food offer at present.

“We’ve invested in getting our general merchandise offer right for customers over the past few years and reaching £1bn in annual sales shows this has been worth it,” Burnely added.

“We know that customers who buy from our non-food range spend more with us overall and the fact we are still able to expand the range to even more stores shows huge potential for Sainsbury’s.”