Blog: A somewhat different Sainsbury’s

Catherine Sleep | 12 October 2005

Marble counters, terrazzo floors, potted palms and bentwood chairs… does this sound like a supermarket to you? Thought not. And yet when UK grocer Sainsbury’s served customers in its pre-war stores, it did so in these sumptuous surroundings. A newly opened exhibition of photographs, memoirs and artefacts relating to the early decades of the Sainsbury’s empire goes on show in London today.

To judge by the exhibition, if Sainsbury’s was getting it as right today as it was then, it would have Tesco licked. Perhaps that’s what the company should do; go seriously upmarket and give customers a genuinely pleasant shopping experience. Traditionally Sainsbury’s has been slightly higher end than Tesco, to take the current market leader as a point of comparison, but as someone who shops regularly in both, to me there’s little discernible difference now.

Course, it would be an expensive exercise to do it properly, with the emphasis on properly, but when it comes to building materials you generally get what you pay for. And, as the very first John Sainsbury said, marble is easy to clean.

Look at the photos and weep


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