Infobox Company
company_name = J Sainsbury plc
company_type = Public (lse|SBRY)
foundation = 1869
location = Holborn Circus, London, England
key_people = Justin King, CEO
Philip Hampton, Chairman
industry = Retail (Grocery)
products = Supermarkets, banking
revenue = £17,837 million (2008)
operating_income = £530 million (2008)
net_income = £329 million (2008)
num_employees = 150,000 (2008)
parent =
subsid = Sainsbury's Bank
Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd.
Sainsbury's Convenience Stores Ltd.
slogan = "Try Something New Today"
homepage = []
footnotes =

J Sainsbury plc (lse|SBRY) is the parent company of Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, commonly known as Sainsbury's (also Sainsbury and JS), the third largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The group also has interests in property and banking.

Sainsbury's was founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann (née Staples), in London, England, and grew rapidly during the Victorian era. It grew to become the largest grocery retailer in 1922, pioneered self-service retailing in the UK, and its heyday was during the 1980s. As a result of being complacent during the 1990s, Tesco became the market leader in 1995, and ASDA became the second-largest in 2003, demoting Sainsbury's into third place.

The founding Sainsbury family still retain approximately 15% of J Sainsbury plc shares (as of May 2008), through various trusts. The family sold down their stake from 35% in 2005. The largest family shareholders are Lord Sainsbury of Turville with 5.83% and Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, who controls just under 3% of the company, and benefits from 1.6% of the equity included in the above.


Sainsbury's is Britain's longest-standing major food retailing chain. It has a long history going back to the 19th century.

The Victorian era

Sainsbury's was established as a partnership in 1869 when John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann opened a store at 173 Drury Lane in Holborn, London. They saved £125 to open a shop in the blazing hot summer.dubious|date=August 2008 He started as a retailer of fresh foods and later expanded into packaged groceries such as tea and sugar. His trading philosophy, as stated on a sign outside his first shop in Islington, was "Quality perfect, prices lower". Sainsbury's took great pride in the cleanliness of its stores, something which it still tries to achieve today, but without the same leading success. John James Sainsbury's aim was to offer the highest quality products, starting with butter, but at affordable prices through owning a larger chain, thus gaining economies of scale.

It was very innovative in that its stores, instead of featuring five own-brand lines like arch-rival Home and Colonial, it offered a wide range of own label lines in comparison. Instead of saw dust floors and wooden counters, Sainsbury's boasted marble counters, mosaic floors and white-tiled walls. Staff even had a uniform of white aprons. Stores started to look similar, so people could recognise them throughout London, a high cast iron 'J. SAINSBURY.' sign featured on every store so their stores could be seen on coaches and omnibuses, and round-the-back deliveries started to add extra convenience and not upset rivals due to Sainsbury's poularity.

In the decade to 1900, the number of Sainsbury's shops trebled.

In 1922 J Sainsbury was incorporated as a private company, as 'J. Sainsbury Limited', when it became the UK's largest grocery group.

By this time each store had six departments: dairy, bacon and hams, poultry and game, cooked meats and fresh meats. Groceries were not introduced until 1903 when John James purchased a grocer's branch at 12 Kingsland High Street, Dalston. Home delivery featured in every store as there were fewer cars in those days. Sites were carefully chosen, with a central position in a parade selected in preference to a corner shop. This allowed a larger display of products, which could be kept cooler in summer, which was important as there was no refrigeration.

By the time John James Sainsbury passed away in 1928, there were 128 shops. His last words were said to be 'Keep the shops well lit', and he was replaced by his eldest son, John Benjamin Sainsbury, who joined the business in 1915.dubious|date=August 2008

The Interwar years and the Second World War

During the 1930s and 1940's, with the company now run by John James Sainsbury's eldest son, John Benjamin Sainsbury, the company continued to refine its product offer and maintain its leadership in terms of store design, convenience and cleanliness. The company acquired the Midlands-based Thoroughgood chain in 1936.

Alan Sainsbury, the founder's grandson (later Lord Sainsbury of Drury Lane) became joint managing director of Sainsbury's along with his brother Sir Robert Sainsbury in 1938 after their father, John Benjamin Sainsbury, had a minor heart attack.

Following the outbreak of World War II, many of the men that worked for Sainsbury's were called to do National Service and were replaced by women. Given Sainsbury's reputation for quality foods at fair prices, the Second World War were difficult times for Sainsbury's, as with most of its stores trading in the London area, a lot of them got bombed or damaged. Turnover fell to half the pre-war level. Food was rationed, and one particular store in East Grinstead was so badly damaged on Friday 9 July 1943, that it had to move to the local Church as a temporary replacement, whilst a new one was built. This store was not completed until 1951.

Pioneering self-service supermarkets

In 1956, Alan Sainsbury became Chairman after his father, John Benjamin Sainsbury's death.

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the company now run by Alan Sainsbury, it pioneered self-service supermarkets. On a trip to the United States of America, Alan Sainsbury realised the benefits of self-service stores, and believed the future of Sainsbury's was self-service supermarkets of 10,000 sq ft, with eventually the added bonus of a car park for extra convenience. The first self-service branch opened in Croydon in 1950. One customer was so upset that she threw a basket of goods in Alan Sainsbury's face.

Sainsbury's was a pioneer in the development of own-brand goods; the aim was to offer products that matched the quality of nationally branded goods, but at a lower price. It had a particular emphasis on fresh foods and innovated frozen foods. Despite Sainsbury's wide aisles and spaced-out merchandise (compared to Tesco's 'pile it high and sell it cheap' image), Sainsbury's boasted the highest sales per square foot in the grocery retailing industry. It expanded more cautiously than Tesco, shunning acquisitions, and it never offered trading stamps.

ainsbury's heyday

Until the company went public on 12 July 1973, as J Sainsbury plc, the company was wholly owned by the Sainsbury family. It was at the time the largest ever flotation on the London Stock Exchange; the company rewarded the smaller bids for shares in order to create as many shareholders as possible. A million shares were set aside for staff, which led to many staff members buying shares that shot up in value. Within one minute the list of applications was closed: £495m had been offered for £14.5m available shares. The feverish press that surrounded the flotation greatly enhanced the company's new dynamic image. Most of the senior positions were held by family members; John Davan Sainsbury (later Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover), a member of the fourth generation of the founding family, took over the chairmanship from his uncle Sir Robert Sainsbury in 1969, who had been chairman for two years from 1967 following Alan Sainsbury's retirement. By this time Sainsbury's was a regional, slightly complacent group based in the South-East.

Sainsbury's started to replace its 10,000 sq ft High Street stores with self-service supermarkets above 20,000 sq ft, which were either in out-of-town locations or in regenerated town centres. Sainsbury's policy was to invest in uniform, well-designed stores with a strong emphasis on quality; its slogan was "good food costs less at Sainsbury's". During the 1970s the average size of Sainsbury's stores rose from 10,000 sq ft to around 18,000 sq ft; the first edge-of-town store, with 24,000 sq ft of selling space, was opened in Cambridge in 1974. The last counter service branch closed in 1982. Although these larger stores contained some non-food items, they were not intended to match what Asda had been doing in the north; Sainsbury's focused more single-mindedly on food. To participate in the hypermarket sector, Sainsbury's formed a joint venture, known as SavaCentre, with British Home Stores. The first SavaCentre store was opened in Washington, Tyne and Wear, in 1977; nearly half the space, amounting to some 35,000 sq ft, was devoted to textiles, electrical goods and hardware. As the hypermarket format became more mainstream, with rivals such as Asda and Tesco launching ever-larger stores, it was decided that a separate brand was no longer needed and the stores were converted to the regular Sainsbury's superstore format in 1999. This is in direct contrast to rival firms Tesco and ASDA, which have been rapidly expanding their "Tesco Extra" and "ASDA Wal-Mart Supercentre" hypermarket formats in recent years.

Another diversification took place in 1979, when Sainsbury's formed a joint venture with the Belgian retailer, GB-Inno-BM, to set up a chain of do-it-yourself stores under the Homebase name. The plan was to open a DIY store with a supermarket-style layout. Homebase was tripled in size in 1995 with the acquisition of the rival Texas Homecare from the Ladbroke Group plc. Sainsbury's sold the Homebase chain in December 2000 in a two-fold deal worth £969 million. Sales of the chain of stores to venture capitalist Schroder Ventures generated £750 million and sale of 28 development sites, which had been earmarked for future Homebase stores, were sold for £219 million to rival B&Q's parent company, Kingfisher plc. At the time, the chain had 13% of the UK market, behind B&Q and Focus Do It All.

The company's growth was still largely based on food, with only a modest contribution from the SavaCentre business (of which Sainsbury's took full control in 1989). There was, however, diversification outside the UK.

In November 1983 Sainsbury's purchased 21% of Shaw's Supermarkets, the second largest grocery group in the north-east United States. In June 1987, Sainsbury's acquired the rest of the company. The aim was to create a high-quality regional food retailing business based on the same principles as the UK-based operation. Despite good performance by Shaw's, Sainsbury's sold the group on 30 April 2004.

Under the paternalistic leadership of John Davan Sainsbury, it built on its reputation for quality and good value. In 1985 the chairman was able to report that over the preceding ten years profits had grown from £15m to over £168m, a compound annual rise of 30.4% – after allowing for inflation a real annual growth rate of 17.6%. The company was also investing heavily in new technology. During the 1980s the proportion of sales passing through EPOS scanning checkouts rose from 1% to 90%.

At the end of the decade Sainsbury's was widely regarded as one of the world's best-run retailers.

Sainsbury's expanded its operation into Scotland with a store in Darnley opening in January 1992, (the SavaCentre at Cameron Toll in Edinburgh had opened in 1984). In June 1995 Sainsbury's announced its intention to move into the Northern Ireland market, until that point dominated by local companies. [cite web | title = The sourcing in Northern Ireland of agricultural produce by national supermarkets and retailers | work = | publisher = Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue | date = 1998-01-23 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate =2006-08-28 ] Between December 1996 and December 1998 the company opened seven stores. Two others at Sprucefield, Lisburn and Holywood Exchange, Belfast would not open until 2003 due to protracted legal challenges. Sainsbury's move into Northern Ireland was undertaken in a very different way from that of Tesco. While Sainsbury's outlets were all new developments, Tesco (apart from one Tesco Metro) instead purchased existing chains from Associated British Foods (see Tesco Ireland). In January 2008 Sainsbury's brought its number of Northern Ireland supermarkets to 11 with the purchase of two Curley's Supermarkets, which includes those stores' petrol stations and off licences. [cite news |title=Retail giant buys family business |url= |work=BBC News |publisher=BBC |date=2008-01-16 |accessdate=2008-01-16 ] [cite press release |title=Sainsbury's in deal with Curley's Supermarket |publisher=Curley's Supermarkets |date=2008-01-16 |url= |format=Microsoft Word |accessdate=2008-01-16]

In 1991, the group boasted a 12-year record of dividend increases of 20% or more and earnings per share had risen by as much for nearly as long. In the middle of that year the company raised £489m in new equity to fund the expansion of superstores.

John Davan Sainsbury retired in November 1992, and is credited with leading the company to become the UK's largest and most successful supermarket chain.

ainsbury's downfall

In 1992 the long-time CEO John Sainsbury retired and was succeeded as chairman and chief executive by his cousin, David Sainsbury (later Lord Sainsbury of Turville); this brought about a change in management style – more consensual, less hierarchical – but not in strategy or in corporate beliefs about the company's place in the market. The impression of continuity was reinforced by the appointment of Tom Vyner, who as buying director had been a powerful figure under the old regime, to be deputy chairman and joint managing director in charge of UK supermarkets. In 2004 "The Times" quoted a former executive and others who view this event as the start of the company's downturn due to management failures of David Sainsbury and his successors, Dino Adriano and Peter Davis.

Mistakes cited include David Sainsbury's famous dismissal of Tesco's loyalty card, the reluctance to move into non-food retailing, the indecision between Sainsbury's quality/price position, "the sometimes brutal treatment of suppliers" which led to suppliers favouring Tesco over Sainsbury's and the unsuccessful John Cleese advertising campaign. [cite news|first =Patrick|last=Hosking|title=Rot set in at the family firm back in 1992|work =The Times|publisher = Times Newspapers|page = 48|date = 2004-10-20|accessdate = 2007-02-08]

At the end of 1993 it announced price cuts on 300 of its most popular own-label lines. Significantly, this came three months after Tesco had launched its Tesco Value line.

A few months later Sainsbury's announced that margins had fallen, that the pace of new superstore construction would slow down, and that it would write down the value of some of its properties.

In 1994 Sainsbury's announced a new town-centre format, Sainsbury's Central, again a response to Tesco's Metro, which was already established in five locations. The loss of the takeover battle for William Low was a disappointment (like Tesco, Sainsbury's had long been under-represented in Scotland).

It was followed by an unwise response to Tesco's Clubcard. Tesco's initiative was dismissed by David Sainsbury as 'an electronic version of Green Shield Stamps', but the company was soon forced to backtrack, introducing its own Reward Card 18 months later.

A strategic review in 1995 led to the launch of the Sainsbury's Economy label (now Sainsbury's Basics). But again Sainsbury's appeared to be lagging behind its rival. Commentators were drawing invidious comparisons between Leahy's role in Tesco and the lack of a "young Turk" in Sainsbury's.

For much of the 20th century Sainsbury's was the market leader in the UK supermarket sector, but in 1995 it lost its place as the UK's largest grocer to Tesco.

Some new ventures were successful, notably the launch of a retail bank, Sainsbury's Bank, in partnership with Bank of Scotland, and Sainsbury's continued to build up its supermarket business in the US; in addition to Shaw's, Sainsbury's bought a minority stake in another supermarket group, Giant Food, based in Washington DC, although this shareholding was subsequently sold when Ahold of the Netherlands made a full bid for the company.

Sainsbury also trebled the size of its Homebase do-it-yourself business by buying Texas Homecare from Ladbroke for £290m. But these moves did little to allay concern among investors about the grocery business in the UK.

In 1996 the company reported its first fall in profits for 22 years. David Sainsbury announced management changes, involving the appointment of two chief executives, one in charge of UK supermarkets and SavaCentre (Tom Vyner) and the other responsible for Homebase and the US (Dino Adriano). Finally, in 1998, David Sainsbury himself resigned from the company to pursue a career in politics. He was succeeded as non-executive chairman by George Bull, who had been chairman of Diageo, the drinks group, and Adriano was promoted to be group chief executive.

However, this proved to be no more than an interim move. Adriano was moved sideways in 1999 to take charge of strategy, while his deputy, David Bremner, was given responsibility for UK supermarkets.

In March 1997 Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd. was established as a separate subsidiary of the group.

The brand re-launch

In June 1999 Sainsbury's unveiled its new corporate identity, which was developed by M&C Saatchi, which consisted of the current company logo (right), new corporate colours of "living orange" and blue, Interstate as the company's general use font, the new slogan "Making life taste better", which replaced their old slogan from the 1960s and new staff uniforms. [cite news| first = Alexandra| last = Jardine| title = Sainsbury's overhauls its image for fightback| work = Marketing| publisher =Haymarket Publishing Services| date = 1999-06-10| accessdate = 2007-03-07] [cite news| first = Kathy| last = Marks| title = Dowdy Sainsbury to rebuild image| work = The Independent| publisher = Newspaper Publishing| page = 4| date = 1999-06-03| accessdate = 2007-03-07] The strapline was dropped in May 2005 and replaced in September of that year by "Try something new today." While the Interstate font was used almost exclusively for many years, the company introduced another informal font in 2005 which is used in a wide range of advertising and literature.

In 1999 Sainsbury's acquired an 80.1% share of Egyptian Distribution Group SAE, a retailer in Egypt with 100 stores and 2,000 employees. However poor profitability led to the sale of this share in 2001. [cite news | title =Sainsbury's pulls out of Egypt | publisher = BBC News | date =2001-04-09 | url = | accessdate =2006-08-28] On 8 October 1999 the CEO Dino Adriano lost control of the core UK supermarket business, instead assuming responsibility for the rest of the group. David Bremner became head of the UK supermarkets. This was "derided" by the city [cite news| first = Nigel| last = Hope| title = City derides Sainsbury's boardroom reshuffle| work = The Independent | publisher = | page = 18| date = 1999-08-09| accessdate = 2007-02-08] and described as a "fudge".cite news|first = Andrew|last = Wilson|title = Davis returns to the checkouts;Sainsbury appoints new chief executive|work = The Herald|publisher = Scottish Media Newspapers|page = 22|date = 2000-01-15|accessdate = 2007-02-08] On 14 January 2000 Sainsbury's reversed this decision by announcing the replacement of Adriano by Sir Peter Davis effective from March.

Business Transformation Programme

Between 2000-2004, Peter Davis was chief executive of Sainsbury's. Davis' appointment was well received by investors and analysts. [cite news|first= Saeed |last= Shah|title= Sir Peter Davis brought back to take helm at Sainsbury's|work= The Independent|publisher= Newspaper Publishing|page= 19|date= 2000-01-15|accessdate= 2007-02-08] The appointment was only confirmed after Sainsbury's was sure of the support of the Sainsbury family, who snubbed Davis' offer of becoming chief executive in the early 1990s. In his first two years he raised profits above targets, however by 2004 the group had suffered a decline in performance relative to its competitors and was demoted to third in the UK grocery market. Davis also oversaw an almost £3 billion upgrade of stores, distribution and IT equipment, entitled 'Business Transformation Programme', but his successor would later reveal that much of this investment was wasted and he failed in his key goal - improving availability. Part of this investment saw the construction of four fully automated depots, which at £100 million each cost four times more than standard depots.cite news |first=Abigail|last=Townsend|title=How the 'Newbury process' turned Sainsbury's round |url= |work=The Independent on Sunday |publisher=Independent Newspapers |date=2006-04-23 |accessdate=2007-02-08 ]

In 2001 Sainsbury's moved into its current headquarters at Holborn, London. Sainsbury's previously occupied Stamford House and 12 other buildings around Southwark. However the accounting department remained separate at Streatham. The building was designed by architectural firm Foster and Partners and had been developed on the former Mirror Group site for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), however Sainsbury's acquired the 25 year lease when Accenture pulled out.

Sainsbury's is a founding member of the Nectar loyalty card scheme, which was launched in late 2002 in conjunction with Debenhams, Barclaycard and BP. The Nectar scheme replaced the Sainsbury's Reward Card; accrued points were transferred over. The loyalty scheme is run by a 3rd party company - Loyalty Management UK or LMUK as often abbreviated, collating information on behalf of the partner sponsors.

In 2003 Wm Morrison Supermarkets made an offer for the Safeway group, prompting a bidding war between the major supermarkets. The Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, referred the various bids to the Competition Commission which reported its findings on 26 September. The Commission found that all bids, with the exception of Morrison's, would "operate against the public interest". As part of the approval Morrison's was to dispose of 53 of the combined group's stores. In May 2004 Sainsbury's announced that it would acquire 14 of these stores, 13 Safeway stores and 1 Morrison's outlet located primarily in the Midlands and the North of England. The first of these new stores opened in August 2004.

At the end of March 2004 Davis was promoted to chairman and was replaced as CEO by Justin King. In June 2004 Davis was forced to quit in the face of an impending shareholder revolt over his salary and bonuses. Investors were angered by a bonus share award of over £2m despite poor company performance. On 19 July 2004 Davis' replacement, Philip Hampton, was appointed as chairman. Hampton has previously worked for British Steel, British Gas, BT and Lloyds TSB.

Making Sainsbury's Great Again

Justin King joined Sainsbury's in 2004 from Marks and Spencer plc where he was a director with responsibility for its food division and Kings Super Markets, Inc. subsidiary in the United States.cite press release | title =Sainsbury's appoints new Group Chief Executive | publisher =J Sainsbury plc | date =2003-11-19 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-28] Schooled in Solihull and a graduate of the University Of Bath, where he took a business administration degree, King was also previously a managing director at Asda with responsibility for hypermarkets.

King ordered a direct mail campaign to 1 million Sainsbury's customers as part of his 6 month business review asking them what they wanted from the company and where the company could improve. This reaffirmed the commentary of retail analysts - the group was not ensuring that shelves are fully stocked, this due to the failure of the IT systems introduced by Peter Davis. On 19 October 2004 King unveiled the results of the business review and his plans to revive the company's fortunes - in a three year recovery plan entitled 'Making Sainsbury's Great Again'. This was generally well received by both the stock market and the media. Immediate plans included laying off 750 headquarters staff and the recruitment of around 3,000 shop-floor staff to improve the quality of service and the firm's main problem: stock availability. The aim would be to increase sales revenue by £2.5bn by the financial year ending March 2008. Another significant announcement was the halving of the dividend to increase funds available for price cuts and quality.

King hired Lawrence Christensen as supply chain director in 2004. Previously he was an expert in logistics at Safeway, but left following its takeover by Morrisons. Immediate supply chain improvements included the reactivation of two distribution centres. In 2006 Christensen commented on the four automated depots introduced by Davis, saying "not a single day went by without one, if not all of them, breaking down... The systems were flawed. They have to stop for four hours every day for maintenance. But because they were constantly breaking down you would be playing catch up. It was a vicious circle." Christensen said a fundamental mistake was to build four such depots at once, rather than building one which could be thoroughly tested before progressing with the others. [cite news |first=Sarah |last=Butler|title=Sainsbury's takes stock of itself after a year of tents and bunkers|work= The Times|publisher=Times Newspapers |date=2005-10-08|accessdate=2007-02-08] At the time of the business review on 19 October 2004, referring to the availability problems, Justin King said "Lawrence hadn't seen anything that he hadn't seen before. He just hadn't seen them all in the same place at the same time". In 2007 Sainsbury's announced a further £12 million investment in its depots to keep pace with sales growth and the removal of the failed automated systems from its depots.cite news |first = Sarah |last = Butler|title = Sainsbury's to revamp depots as sales grow faster than forecast|url =,,9074-2543269,00.html|work = The Times|publisher = Times Newspapers|page = |date = 2007-01-12|accessdate = 2007-02-09]

Sainsbury's sold its American subsidiary, Shaw's, to Albertsons in 2004. [cite news | last = Potter | first = Mark | coauthors = Carew, Sinead | title = Sainsbury warns on profit as it checks out of U.S. | publisher = Reuters | date = 2004-03-26 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11] Also in 2004 Sainsbury's expanded its share of the convenience store market through acquisitions. Bell's Stores, a 54 store chain based in north-east England was acquired in February 2004. [cite news | title = Sainsbury's buys chain of stores | publisher = BBC News | date = 2004-02-18 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11] Jackson's Stores, a chain of 114 stores based in Yorkshire and the North Midlands, was purchased in August 2004. [cite news | title = Sainsbury's snaps up store chain | publisher = BBC News | date = 2004-08-16 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11] JB Beaumont, a chain of 6 stores in the East Midlands was acquired in November 2004. [cite press release | title = J Sainsbury plc announces acquisition of 3rd convenience store operator | publisher = J Sainsbury plc | date = 2004-11-30 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11] SL Shaw Ltd, which owned six stores was acquired on 28 April 2005 for £6 million. [cite press release | title = Sainsbury's announces acquisition of convenience store operator | publisher = J Sainsbury plc | date = 2005-04-29 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11] On 29 September 2004, Sainsbury's established Sainsbury's Convenience Stores Ltd. to manage its Sainsbury's Local stores and the "Bells" and "Jacksons" chains. The latter two are to be rebranded as Sainsbury's Local by March 2008.

Since the launch of King's recovery programme, the company has reported twelve consecutive quarters of sales growth, most recently in January 2008.cite news |first=Angela|last=Jameson|title=Sainsbury's sales rise defies retail gloom |url= |work=The Times |publisher=Times Newspapers |date=2008-01-10|accessdate=2008-01-10] Early sales increases were credited to solving problems with the company's distribution system. [cite news | title = Improved supply lifts Sainsbury's | publisher = BBC News | date = 2005-03-24 | url = | accessdate = 2006-10-11 ] More recent sales improvements have been put down to price cuts and the company's focus on fresh and healthy food. [cite news | last = Sanderson | first = Rachel | title = Healthy foods help Sainsbury sales top forecasts | publisher = Reuters | date = 2006-10-11 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11]

Private equity takeover bid

On 2 February 2007, after months of speculation about a private equity bid, CVC Capital Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Blackstone Group announced that they were considering a bid for Sainsbury's. [cite news| title = Bid talk lifts Sainsbury's shares| url =| work = BBC News| publisher = BBC| date = 2007-02-02| accessdate = 2007-04-23] The consortium grew to include Goldman Sachs and Texas Pacific Group. On 6 March 2007, with a formal bid yet to be tabled, the Takeover Panel issued a bid deadline of 13 April. [cite news| first = Neelam| last = Verjee| coauthors = Hawkes, Steve; Seib, Christine| title = Tchenguiz buys 3% Sainsbury's stake as consortium is hurried| url =| work = The Times| publisher = Times Newspapers| page = 48| date = 2007-03-07| accessdate = 2007-04-23]

On 4 April KKR left the consortium to focus on its bid for Alliance Boots.cite news| first = Tom| last = Braithwaite et al.| title = Private equity bid founders on family| work = Financial Times| page = 15| date = 2007-04-14| accessdate = 2007-04-23] On 5 April the consortium submitted an "indicative offer" of 562p a share to the company's board. After discussions between Sir Philip Hampton and the two largest Sainsbury family shareholders Lord Sainsbury of Turville and Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover the offer was rejected. On 9 April the indicative offer was raised to 582p a share, however this too was rejected. This meant the consortium could not satisfy its own preconditions for a bid, most importantly 75% shareholder support; the combined Sainsbury family holding at the time was 18%.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who then held 7.75% of Sainsbury's, stated that he could see no reason why the Sainsbury's board would even consider opening its books for due diligence for anything less than 600p per share. Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, with just under 3%, was more extreme than his cousin, and refused to sell at any price. He believed any offer of that stage of Sainsbury's recovery was likely to undervalue the business, and with private equity having high returns on their investments, saw no reason to sell, given that the current management, led by Justin King, could deliver the extra profit generated for the benefit of existing investors. He claimed the bid 'brought nothing to the business', and that high levels of debt would significantly weaken the company and its competitive position in the long-term, which would have an adverse effect on Sainsbury's stakeholders.

On 11 April the CVC-led consortium abandoned its offer, stating "it became clear the consortium would be unable to make a proposal that would result in a successful offer." [cite news| first = Sarah| last = Butler| title = CVC withdraws £10 billion offer for Sainsbury's| url =| work = The Times| publisher = Times Newspapers| date = 2007-04-11| accessdate = 2007-04-23]

Recovery to growth

On 16 May 2007 Sainsbury's announced underlying profits for the year ending on 24 March (before pension and interest charge benefits) rose by 42.3% to £380 million. Revenue rose 6.9% to £18.52 billion. King announced the company was ahead of its target to raise revenue by £2.5 billion by 2008 and that a new three year £3.5 billion sales target was being adopted.Butler, Sarah. [ Sainsbury's may lift chief's pay after fourfold profit rise] 2007-05-17. "The Times". Accessed on 2007-05-22.] 66% of these sales are to come from grocery and 33% from non-food (e.g clothing and entertainment). Other plans include the refurbishment or extension of half of the company's stores.

On 4 October 2007 Sainsbury's announced plans to relocate its Store Support Centre from Holborn to Kings Cross in 2011. The new office will be part of a new complex to allow for both cost savings and energy efficiency. These savings will be made through the use of efficient building materials and design, a combined heat and power energy centre and the use of renewable energy sources. [cite press release | title = Sainsbury's announces relocation of Holborn central office | publisher = J Sainsbury Plc | date = 2007-10-04 | accessdate = 2007-11-06 | url =]

In June 2008 Sainsbury's bought a northern Irish branded store Curley's which had two stores one in Dungannnon and Belfast. The Belfast store will open in 2009 after a refurbishment and expansion. This currently makes 11 Sainsbury's stores in Northern Ireland.

Delta Two takeover bid

On 25 April 2007 Delta Two, a Qatari investment company, bought a 14% stake in Sainsbury's causing its share price to rise 7.17%, which was then upped to 17.6%. Their interest in Sainsbury's is thought to centre on its property portfolio. They increased their stake to 25% in June 2007. [ [ Huge share deal lifts Sainsbury's] BBC News 25 April 2007]

On 18 July BBC News reported that Delta Two had tabled a conditional bid proposal. [ [ Qatar firm tables Sainsbury's bid] ]

The bid was initially believed to be worth 610p a share, but was in fact worth 600p a share, the minimum level the Sainsbury family stated the business was worth. Paul Taylor, the principal of Delta Two, flew David and John Sainsbury to Sardinia to reveal and discuss the potential bid. The bid received a lukewarm response.

The family had reservations about the value of the bid (after another quarter of like-for-like sales growth and a revaluation of the Sainsbury's property portfolio). In addition, they were concerned about splitting J Sainsbury plc into an operating company and a property company which would be distinct, a highly leveraged bid which could weaken Sainsbury's competitive position and the long-term interests of the business and its stakeholders, the investment plan (the strategy pursued by Justin King had greater capital expenditure commitments than the Delta Two plan) and the funding of the pension fund, which was revealed just days before a recommended bid was expected, as an ultimatum.

On 5 November 2007 it was announced Delta Two had abandoned its takeover bid due to the "deterioration of credit markets" and concerns about funding the company's pension scheme. [ [ Sainsbury's takeover bid dropped ] ] Following the withdrawal of the interest of the QIA, shares in Sainsbury's dropped around 20% (115p) to 440p on the day of this announcement (5 November 2007).

Delta Two have now withdrawn and no takeover bid is expected, despite the City believing it was a 'done deal' during 2007.

Financial performance

#denotes 52 weeks
#denotes 56 weeks.
#"One off operating costs" of £152 million incurred. This includes £63 million to terminate the IT outsourcing contract with Accenture.
#£168 million before exceptional costs (cost of "turnaround" plan and write off of excess merchandise etc.)

Current operations

Sainsbury's currently operates 823 convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets. This is split down as 504 supermarkets and 319 convenience stores.

It is the third largest supermarket chain in the UK, and places an emphasis on a higher quality grocery offering compared to its other large rivals.

According to Taylor Nelson Sofres rankings published in January 2008, Sainsbury's market share was 16.4% compared to Tesco's 31.5%, ASDA's 16.7% and Morrison's 11.4%.cite news |title= Sainsbury's reports rise in sales |url=| publisher=BBC News| date=2008-01-10| accessdate=2008-01-10]

According to CACI, as of 2006, Sainsbury's has market dominance in 8 postcode areas; TQ (Torquay), SN (Swindon), GU (Guildford), RH (Redhill), DA (Dartford), SE (South East London), EN (Enfield) and WV (Wolverhampton). [cite web|url=|title=Tesco 'top' in more parts of the UK|publisher=BBC News|accessdate=2008-05-22]

It is particularly strong in London and the South-East, where it is based, and although it has a national store portfolio, it is biased towards the South-East.

tore formats

The supermarket chain operates three main store formats; regular Sainsbury's stores ('Main Mission'), Sainsbury's Local and Central (convenience stores and smaller supermarkets in urban locations - 'Mixed Mission') and Sainsbury's 'Main Plus' (hypermarket) stores.

At the end of its 2005/06 financial year Sainsbury's store portfolio was as follows. [cite web | title = Company profile | publisher = J Sainsbury plc
date = July 2006 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate =2006-10-11

Traditionally, Sainsbury's was most present in the areas around London and south-east England. The company acquired the Midlands-based Thoroughgood in the 1930s. Expansion since 1945 has given the company national reach, although the chain is not as represented in Scotland as other chains such as Tesco, and Morrisons (as Safeway dominated Scotland before being taken over by that company). This is partly due to the fact that Sainsbury's missed out on the bidding war for William Low to Tesco in the 1990s.

Since 1999, Sainsbury's stores have received a new look. The old 'J SAINSBURY' fascia, used since 1869, was scrapped and 'Sainsbury's' was used. Sainsbury's stores are more colourful than those of rivals, and stores refurbished post 1999 feature dark blue walls, with bright orange brand wall panels, along with grey shelving and checkouts. Individual counters also have different brightly coloured panels behind them. The new flagship store in Greenwich, South London, was the first to receive this new-look, lending the name 'Greenwich Blue' to describe the in store colour scheme. This format was subsequently rolled out across the entire store estate. Following the introduction of the 'Try something new today' slogan in 2005, stores are refurbished with cream walls, and dark red and dark blue signage, along with cream coloured shelving and checkouts. New purple coloured staff uniforms are being introduced to all stores over the next year.

However, some stores have still been under-invested as of 2008, despite a store refurbishment programme since 1999. One such store is in Princess Square, Bracknell, which still features the old 'J SAINSBURY' logo, with lime green and dark brown tiles inside, fashionable in the 1970s.

upermarkets and hypermarkets

The largest format of stores is internally branded 'Main Plus'. These are hypermarkets, which between 1977 and 2005 were branded as 'Sainsbury's SavaCentre'. However, as they got more integrated into the main chain, these stores were re-branded under the main Sainsbury's brand. This happened both in terms of back-office administration (the SavaCentre HQ In Wokingham closed down in the 1990s) and in terms of store decoration, (which became identical to the Sainsbury's 'Main Mission' outlets). They occupy a wide range of both grocery and non-food, as a 50:50 split similar to Tesco Extra, and can therefore accommodate the weekly shop and more. These large stores have over 45,000 sq ft of sales area, and original SavaCentre's include Merton, Colney and Sydenham in London, and Calcot in Reading. A large 100,000 sq ft 'Main Plus' store is planned for Slough, on the site of the old Co-op store, which Tesco used while they were building their controversial 100,000 sq ft Extra store, currently the largest in the UK.

The core 'Main Mission' store format, which is a typical Sainsbury's supermarket, is between 20,000 sq ft and 48,000 sq ft. The average size of a Sainsbury's supermarket is 34,000 sq ft, the lowest amongst the 'Big Four'. This is because Sainsbury's were criticised for not building larger stores and extending its SavaCentre format in the 1990s. They concentrate on the weekly family shop. Food and non-food are split two thirds and one-third respectively. Typical counters include Food to Go, Fishmonger, Butchers, Delicatessen, Bakery, Salad Bar and Beers, Wines and Spirits.

Both of the above formats trade simply as Sainsbury's, so you cannot tell which format you are in unless you know what to look for. Customers will notice a larger product range, particularly non-food in a 'Main Plus' store.

Convenience stores

Most of the major chains: Sainsbury's, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Somerfield and The Co-operative operate convenience stores; as of 2008, Asda and Morrisons do not have presence in this area of the market.

The 'Mixed Mission' format incorporates the Sainsbury's Central and Sainsbury's Local formats. Sainsbury's Central stores are between 7,000 sq ft and 20,000 sq ft, which is a mini supermarket, and Sainsbury's Local stores are between 2,000 sq ft and 6,000 sq ft in size, carrying a top-up shop and grab-and-go offer. Sainsbury's Local stores have different decoration to the other two formats - 'Main Mission' and 'Main Plus'.

The Sainsbury's Local stores on Shell petrol forecourts are set to close down due to being unprofitable.

Sainsbury's Central will eventually be phased out, to be replaced by the Sainsbury's 'Main Mission' format. This was announced in 2004, but several Sainsbury's Central stores, including Holborn and Reading, have yet to be refurbished and converted.

As well as its own Local and Central stores Sainsbury's has expanded through acquisition of existing chains (Bell's Stores, Jackson's Stores, JB Beaumont, and SL Shaw Ltd).

Sainsbury's initially retained the strong Bells and Jacksons brands. For example, refurbished stores were called "Sainsbury's at Bells" or "Sainsbury's at Jacksons". These were effectively Sainsbury's Local stores with a revised fascia, retaining some features of the former local chain. Unrefurbished stores retained the original brand and logo, but still offered Sainsbury's own brand products, pricing and some point of sale, without accepting Nectar cards. The old websites were also retained with some Sainsbury's branding.

This was an experimental format and on 4 May 2007 it was announced that all stores would be re branded as Sainsbury's Local, with the management teams of the smaller stores integrated into Sainsbury's own teams. [ ['s-axes-retail-sub-brands.aspx?categoryid=138 Sainsbury's axes retail sub-brands - Convenience Store ] ] The Jacksons Stores website now auto forwards to the Sainsbury's one. The Bell's Stores website [] no longer exists at all.

Checkout equipment

Sainsbury's currently uses NCR Point of Sale equipment operating the Retalix "Storeline" software, replacing the Fujitsu-ICL POS systems used during the 1990s.

Each till receipt includes a two-line footer showing the store number (prefixed with 'S'), transaction number (prefixed with '#') on the day of purchase, cashier number (prefixed with 'C'), checkout number (prefixed with 'R') and time and date.

Marketing and branding

Since 2000 Jamie Oliver has been the public face of Sainsbury's, appearing on television and radio advertisements and in-store promotional material. The deal earns him an estimated £1.2 million every year. In the first two years these advertisements are estimated to have given Sainsbury's an extra £1 billion of sales or £200 million gross profit. [cite news | last = Wheeler | first = Brian | title = Sainsbury banks on fresh Oliver ads | publisher = BBC News | date = 2003-06-11 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11]

Sainsbury's currently uses the "Try something new today" slogan which was launched in an effort to make consumers venture into purchasing more varied goods. The television adverts are also often accompanied by The Polyphonic Spree's Light & Day. Over the years, Sainsbury's has used many slogans:

*"Quality perfect, Prices Lower" The slogan used on the shop-front of the Islington store in 1882.
*"Sainsbury's For Quality, Sainsbury's For Value"- Used in 1918 above the Drury Lane store.
*"Sainsbury's. The Essentials are the Essentials."*
*"Good Food Costs Less At Sainsbury's" — Used from the 1960s to the 1990s. Described by BBC News as "probably the best-known advertising slogan in retailing." [cite news | title = Stores at war: winning secrets | publisher = BBC News | date = 1999-06-04 | url =
accessdate =2006-10-11
*"Sainsbury's - Everyone's Favourite Ingredient" — Used in a series of TV commercials in the 1990s which featured celebrities cooking Sainsbury's food.
*"Fresh food, fresh ideas"-used in 1998"
*"Value to shout about" — A 1998/1999 campaign fronted by John Cleese which was widely claimed to have been a major mistake. Sainsbury's said it actually depressed sales. However, the company had been losing sales for years because of the rise of rival Tesco. [cite news | last = Pollock | first = Ian | title = What's gone wrong for Sainsbury's? | publisher = BBC News | date = 1999-11-23 | url = | accessdate =2006-10-11]
*"Making Life Taste Better" Introduced 1999 and used until May 2005.
*"Try something new today" Introduced in September 2005. Replaced on carrier bags, till receipts and all other corporate branding from this point.

In 2008 they created a shopping incentive by showing that, when shopping at Sainsbury's, you can feed your family for only five pounds. The incentive, called "Feed your family for a fiver", with the flagship of "Meatballs 'n' More" has been advertised on British television channels, with Jamie Oliver cooking for a family.

Product ranges

A large store typically stocks around 50,000 lines of which around 20% are "own-label" goods. These own-brand lines include:
*Basics: an economy range of around 500 lines, mainly food but also including other areas including toiletries and stationery. The Basics range uses minimal packaging with simple orange and white designs, to keep the price as low as possible. Sainsbury's Local stores sell none or very few of these lines. Equivalent to Tesco's Value, ASDA's Smart price and Morrison's Value (formerly Bettabuy)
*Taste the Difference: around 1100 premium food lines, including many processed foods such as ready meals and premium bakery lines. Similar to ASDA's Extra Special, Tesco Finest and Morrison's The Best.
*Different by Design: a smaller range of premium non-food lines, including flowers which were previously branded "Orlando Hamilton".
*Kids: these lines are for children. In 2006 these lines replaced the Blue Parrot Café range.
*Be Good To Yourself: products with reduced calorific and/or fat content.
*Free From: over 75 product lines. [ [ Sainsbury's freefrom - Sainsbury's - Try something new today ] ] These products are suitable for those allergic to dairy products. (The majority of these are dairy and gluten/wheat free)
*Sainsbury's Organic (SO Organic): Around 500 lines of food / drink which is not derived from food stuffs treated with fertiliser or pesticides.
*Fair Trade: Over 100 fair trade products. [cite news | title = Supermarkets switch to Fairtrade bananas | publisher = TimesOnline | date = 2006-12-13 | url =
accessdate =2007-03-25
] - All bananas sold at Sainsbury's are now fair trade. The own-brand tea and coffee is being converted to Fairtrade over the next three years. [cite news | title = Sainsbury's complete Fairtrade products list | publisher = Sainsbury's | date = February 2007 | url =
accessdate =2007-03-25
*Super NaturalsTM: A range of ready meals with healthy ingredients.
* TU - own brand clothing range, which replaced the Jeff Banks designed range, Jeff & Co.
* TU Home - a range of home products, such as lighting, rugs, and kitchen products. Currently in two stores - Sydenham, and Oldbury, but being expanded to other stores throughout the year.

Online service

Sainsbury's operates an internet shopping service branded as "Sainsbury's Online". To use this service customers choose their grocery items online. Pickers then collect the required items which are delivered to customers from a local store by van. This is available to about 75% of the UK population. The service is run from larger stores which carry the full product range - over 100 stores operate an Online service.

It was previously called 'Sainsbury's to You' and 'Sainsbury's entertain You', and prior to that it was called 'Sainsbury's Orderline'.

ainsbury's Bank

In 1997 Sainsbury's Bank was established - a joint venture between J Sainsbury plc. and the Bank of Scotland (now HBOS). Services offered include car, life, home, pet and travel insurance as well as health cover, loans, credit cards, savings accounts and ISAs.


Sainsbury's supply chain operates from ten regional distribution centres (RDCs), with two national distribution centres for slower moving goods at Stoke and Rye Park, and two frozen food facilities, at Elstree and Stone. In addition, the depot at Rugby tranships floral and general merchandise to the RDCs, and Pindar Road depot tranships merchandising units. [ [ Sainsburys Information Direct ] ] . Each depot is given a "Depot Code".

*Allington, Maidstone, Kent (22)
*Basingstoke, Hampshire (3)
*Belfast, Northern Ireland (21)
*Charlton, London (6)
*Langlands Park, East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire (75)
*Elstree, Hertfordshire (7/14)
*Emerald Park, Emerson's Green, Bristol (70)
*Hams Hall, Coleshill, West Midlands (26)
*Sherburn ++, North Yorkshire
*Northampton, Northamptonshire
*Pindar Road, Hertfordshire (4)
*Rugby, Warwickshire (chilled: 68, floral: 15, general merchandise: 78)
*Rye Park, Hertfordshire (48)
*Stoke, Staffordshire (34)
*Stone, Staffordshire (30)
*Tamworth +, Staffordshire
*St Albans, Hertfordshire (12)
*Waltham Point, Hertfordshire (37)
*Haydock, St Helens, Merseyside (39)

+ Tamworth is a former Safeway distribution centre. It was purchased from Morrisons in order to take on the ambient store deliveries from the Hams Hall RDC, during the rip out of the automated ambient process. When the changes have been completed at Hams Hall and the ambient deliveries return from Tamworth, the new depot at Tamworth will operate the distribution function of the TU line.

The work started on ripping out the automated ambient processes at Hams Hall in May 2008 and is due for completion around September 2008 [] when the ambient processes will return to Hams Hall and will be completed in a traditional manual process.

During the changes Hams Hall continues to process Chill and Produce deliveries; the chill process is to continue using an automated system and produce will remain as a manual process.

A similar rip out of the ambient process happened at Waltham Point during 2007 when the ambient processes were transferred to Buntingford.

++ Sherburn is a former Somerfield depot bought in 2008 and is intended to be a national DC for the Local Stores network it will also take over the work of the Maltby Depot which will close.

Sainsbury's also has a depot called Buntingford. This depot is usually not in operation; however Sainsbury's still own the site and continue to use the depot at busy times, particularly at Christmas when Waltham Point gets very busy. Buntingford is ready for use as an emergency depot for the rest of the year.

Sainsbury's Supply Chain is in the process of changes involving other depots the details of which will be added after the colleague consultation process has been completed.

Originally Sainsbury's ran its own distribution network. However after an industrial dispute with their drivers in the 1970s, and with the intention of streamlining and consolidation, much of the distribution is now contracted out - to distribution specialists such as TDG, DHL/Exel Distribution and NFT.

Sainsbury's drivers are employed on flexi-contracts. The staff split is 20% Agency Staff and 80% Sainsbury's staff.

ee also

*Sainsbury (surname)
*Sainsbury family


External links

* [ Sainsbury's consumer website]
* [ J Sainsbury plc corporate website]
* [ Sainsburys online delivery website]
* [ Sainsburys Key Contacts ]

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