In 1869, John J. Sainsbury and Mary Ann, his wife, established Sainsbury’s. The business has always been headquartered in London, even during its inception. Sainsbury’s experienced major growth during the Victorian era. The founders started by selling fresh foods in the store, and later went to selling packed groceries like sugar and tea.
At the time, Sainsbury’s was considered an innovative store because it offered a wide variety of its own labels. The interior of the stores were also different from the conventional ones. Sainsbury’s had mosaic floors, marble counters and walls with white tiles, unlike conventional stores back then which had wooden counters and floors made from saw dust. After some time, other stores started to copy Sainsbury’s style and so the store had to think of some way to distinguish itself from the other stores. Sainsbury’s then came up with the J. Sainsbury sign made of cast iron. This enabled the store to be seen even by people who were on omnibuses and coaches.
In 1922, Sainsbury’s became the biggest grocery retailer in the city of London, and in the whole of U.K. During this period, the stores already had a number of departments, namely: dairy, poultry and game, fresh meats, bacon and hams, and cooked meats. The company’s name had become ‘J. Sainsbury Limited’ by then. By 1928, Sainsbury’s had 128 grocery shops in different parts of the country. In 1936, the company was able to purchase the Thoroughgood chain, a company that was based in the midlands.
In 1956, Sainsbury’s again started a new trend that would soon be followed by other grocery stores and supermarkets: the self-service supermarket. In 1973, Sainsbury’s became a public company and was renamed J Sainsbury PLC.
In 1995, Tesco replaced Sainsbury as the leader in the grocery industry. In 2003, Sainsbury’s was again outranked by Asda, which became the second biggest store. This put Sainsbury’s at number three in terms of the biggest grocery chain in the country.
Today, J Sainsbury’s PLC has diverse operations in a number of industries. Aside from supermarkets, the company is also engaged in home and garden, technology, toys and games, finance, energy, appliances, entertainment and sports and leisure.
Ownership Type: Public
Employees: 146,900 (as of 2010)
Demography: retail products consumers, quality products consumers
Sainsbury’s Customer Care: 0800 328 1700
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