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Sainsbury's to double number of Click & Collect sites

LONDON, May 3 (Reuters) - British supermarket chain Sainsbury's plans to double the number of its Click & Collect sites over the next 12 months in response to the increasing popularity of the service as UK shopping habits change.

Online shopping is one of the better-performing parts of Britain's retail sector and has become a key battleground for the big supermarkets as they grapple with the growth of German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

British shoppers are increasingly choosing the convenience of ordering online and collecting from stores rather than waiting at home for deliveries.

Sainsbury's, however, is playing catch-up with rivals Tesco and Asda, the British arm of Wal-Mart Stores.

Its Click & Collect groceries service, launched in March last year, offers 100 collection sites but is now targeting 200 sites by May 2017, the company said on Tuesday.

The chain's "drive-thru" service allows customers to pre-select a collection time and collect shopping from a refrigerated van parked in a designated area of a store's car park without having to leave their cars.

Market leader Tesco provides click-and-collect groceries from 330 stores, while Asda provides the service from 618 sites.

The news on Click & Collect from Sainsbury's comes a day before it publishes full-year results.

Analysts are on average forecasting an underlying pretax profit of 574 million pounds ($843 million) for the year to March 12, down from 681 million pounds in 2014/15.

Sainsbury's has shown greater resilience to competition from the discounters than its rivals and last month agreed a 1.4 billion pound ($2.1 billion) takeover of Argos-owner Home Retail . ($1 = 0.6810 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by David Goodman)