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Sainsbury’s enters high-end men’s apparel market

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has launched a range of formal and premium menswear for the first time, capitalising on the increase in demand for menswear in its Tu fashion division.

The ranges will be available to buy online and in 250 of Sainsbury’s largest supermarkets and will be known as Tu Formal and Tu Premium.

Discussing the new ranges, Sainsbury’s commercial director, James Brown, said: “Menswear is the fastest growing area of Tu clothing and, having had a fantastic response to our premium womenswear launch, we wanted men to have a similar choice.”

Tu Formal will include footwear and denim items of apparel, with tweed jackets costing in the region of £130 and wool suits starting from £160.

Discussing the decision to move into premium menswear, Sainsbury’s said that revenues from its Tu range had grown 13% year-on-year, compared to the four per cent average across the rest of the label.

Brown added: “We have been testing and learning what we can do, selling higher-priced product. Customers tell us the product is on a par with what they get on the high street where a similar Harris Tweed jacket would be about £180.”

Trade union officials hopeful that Wilko redundancies will be ‘minimal’

Following on from last week’s redundancy consultation period with nearly 4,000 staff at troubled retail chain Wilko, trade union officials hope that the amount of job losses can be minimalised, with GMB officials stating that after meeting Wilko bosses they were hopeful that job loses can be “reduced significantly from the thousands initially feared.”

Wilko, which has over 400 stores across the UK, recently recorded a massive 80% drop in full-year profits and subsequently reviewed its operating functions, with the changes required to “ensure it is best placed to continue to thrive within an ever-changing retail landscape.”

1000 new senior supervisor roles, along with a “significant amount” of customer services roles, would be created as part of the restructure.

Discussing the meeting between Wilko bosses and GMB officials, gary carter, GMB national officer, said: “This was the first of many discussions we will have with the company during the 60-day consultation.

“We will be having further, difficult conversations during the process.

“We’ve had people on the phone to us in tears – people who have been with the company 20 or 30 years.

“We all want to see Wilko as a thriving, sustainable business with a long term future.

“It is vital GMB helps the company keep any job losses to an absolute minimum.

“It is important to ensure adequate staffing levels in their stores to maintain an acceptable level of customer service – and to make sure Wilko staff are paid the living wage.

“We are encouraging Wilko to look at alternative ways to save money, which protect existing job roles.

“It’s a hazy picture at the moment, but we will be looking at each store individually with Wilko.

“There are going to be redundancies, but we are very confident these can be reduced significantly from the thousands initially feared.”

The news of redundancies at Wilko comes hot on the heels of the big three supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, all announcing job cuts as part of an ongoing restructuring strategy.

Nisa staff denied bonus despite hitting targets

Convenience chain Nisa has angered staff by refusing to pay out annual bonuses, despite hitting annual performance targets.

The company, currently at the centre of a possible £130 million takeover talks with Sainsbury’s, told 280 head office staff that there would be no bonus payment, despite an 18% increase in underlying profits to £8.6 million.

Last year the store shared £2.2 million amongst staff members, including a £300,000 bonus for chief executive Nick Read.

Staff have complained of feeling “betrayed” and demotivated at the loss of the bonus.

Sainsbury’s acquired Argos parent company Home Retail Group last year for £1.4 billion, adding to its portfolio. The proposed deal with Nisa would offer the grocer access to 3,000 convenience stores across the UK.

Some 75% of Nisa’s 1,400 members, who each own between one and 250 shares in the group, must vote in favour of selling the business for the deal to go ahead. Members are currently divided between those that have voiced concerns about the prospect of the takeover by Sainsbury’s, and those that are keen to be part of a bigger group with better bargaining power

Supermarkets could introduce e-pricing model

Retail experts have predicted that fixed retail prices could disappear within five years, as supermarkets adopt an e-pricing structure that changes based on demand.

The new ‘surge-pricing’ model, similar to that of taxi firm Uber, is a system which is already common in the US and across parts of Europe, and could see the prices of goods change depending on demand and the time of day.

Electronic price changes were tested in a selection of Marks & Spencers food stores last year in a bid to help the lunchtime rush in their stores, with discounts offered before 11am.

Experts have suggested that similar systems could also be used at petrol pumps.

Andrew Dark, from electronic pricing company Displaydata, said: “Paper tags often show the wrong prices as they have to be manually replaced by staff when prices move, but electronic labels can be updated in just 20 seconds.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We always look at ways that technology can help us improve the shopping experience for our customers.”

Sainsbury’s poised for Nisa purchase

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is set to acquire convince store chain Nisa in an exclusivity deal thought to be worth in the region of £130 million, preventing

Nisa from speaking with other rivals companies, such as The Co-operative Group.
However, before the deal can go ahead the agreement needs to be put in front of Nisa’s 1,400 members, with a 50% plus majority needed for it to be finally approved. Nisa currently buys and distributes on behalf of more than 2,500 independently owned stores around the UK.

Nisa has been under pressure in recent years from budget brands such as Poundland. Sainsbury’s, on the other hand, has deployed an ambitious strategy to regain ground lost to budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl, with the £1.4 billion acquisition of Argos parent company Home Retail Group proving to be a success.

The Telegraph reports that Nisa has been working with bankers at Lazard and has narrowed the list of potential buyers to Sainsbury’s and the Co-op.

Sainsbury’s bid is thought to be more attractive than its competitor Co-Op, and is now asking Nisa to sign an exclusivity deal that will prevent them from entering into further conversations with other bidders.

Tesco and Dixons Carphone forge new deal

Tesco has confirmed a new deal with Dixons Carphone to trial concessions within some of the retailer’s largest supermarkets.

Dixons Carphone, which owns tech retailer Currys PC World, will launch two new outlets this summer in Tesco Extra stores located in Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Both concessions will stock a range of Currys PC World products, including white goods, computers, televisions and accessories, along with Dixons Carphone laptop repair service.

In a direct response to its key rival Sainsbury’s inclusion of Argos stores, Tesco said the new partnership would offer customers the “best possible range of services”.

Both stores will be on trial for a year before any decisions are made regarding further roll-outs.

“We’re always looking at ways to offer our customers the best possible range of services in our stores,” Tesco UK chief executive Matt Davies said.

“We think this is a winning combination for customers and look forward to opening the first outlet in our Milton Keynes store in July.”

Dixons Carphone’s UK and Ireland chief executive Katie Bickerstaffe said: “Customers tell us they want to pick up the latest electrical products conveniently and at competitive prices, with expert advice and from someone they trust to keep them working seamlessly.

“This trial gives them all of this during a weekly grocery shop, which we hope they will enjoy.”




Mike Coupe Sainsbury's

Sainsbury’s core business down, but overall sales up

Sainsbury’s has reported a 0.5 per cent downturn in business in like-for like sales, excluding fuel, in the nine week period to March 11th.

However, the company’s overall sales growth was propped up by a 4.3 per cent increase in like-for-like sales at Argos alone, with a slight acceleration from growth of 4.0 per cent in the previous quarter.

This is good news for Sainsbury’s, which acquired the Home Retail Group, owners of both Argos and Habitat, last September for an estimated £1.4bn.

The company now has over 2,000 stores, which include 601 supermarkets, 773 convenience stores, 739 Argos stores (including concessions) along with three Habitat stores. Sainsbury’s also benefits from online retail of food, clothing, financial services and general merchandise, with the online grocery business reporting a seven per cent growth, with orders up eight per cent.

The Tu clothing brand from Sainsbury’s also faired well, with sales up 5 per cent. The supermarket has registered strong growth in clothing sales over the past three years as sales increased by 8.5 per cent in 2015/16 after hitting a high of 11.9 per cent in the previous year.

According to data from consumer knowledge and data analysis’s, Kantar Wordpanel, supermarkets now account for £1 of every £10 spent on clothing and 23 per cent of items bought.

Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda continue to be involved in a bitter price war as budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl continue to take market share from the Big 4.


Waitrose wins strongest Christmas email campaign title…

The email service provider Mailjet has revealed that Waitrose is ahead of its competitor supermarkets in the email campaign stakes, analysing key metrics including the chain’s subject lines, automation, cross-channel marketing and personalisation.

Reaching a total score of 21.3 points out of an available 29.0, this marks the second consecutive victory for Waitrose in the study and represents a significant improvement on the supermarket’s performance from last year, rising 10 per cent overall.

Mid-market brands Tesco and Asda closely followed Waitrose’s success, hitting 20.0 and 19.9 respectively, however, Marks & Spencer struggled to compete scoring just 17.4 in total.

With regards to emails prospecting new consumer audiences, the research places Morrisons and Sainsbury’s joint last as both failed to send any communications to consumers who haven’t yet purchased through their online shopping platforms.

Josie Scotchmer, UK marketing manager at Mailjet said: “Consumers buy from the brands they build emotional connections with, particularly during the Christmas season. With low scores in critical areas for digital marketing like personalisation and automation, many supermarkets are not making the most of their emails to engage consumers with powerful storytelling.

As Mailjet suggests there has been much discussion on the importance of campaign personalisation this year, just two of the total eight supermarkets surveyed registered a score above 0.0. Specifically, Asda fell short on the top spot for its lack of personalisation, losing five points by omitting any room to add personal messaging to the email in favour of a singularly product-focused, visual structure.

Scotchmer added: “Winning greater share of the market in run up to Christmas holiday relies on having an online and offline campaign that fires on all cylinders. There are opportunities for all of these brands to learn from one another and broaden their use of digital strategies to engage and build loyalty with consumers at this critical period in the retail calendar.”

Thousands of Christmas retail temp jobs still available on UK market…

Surprisingly, 21,000 Christmas jobs are still available in the UK, marking a 24 per cent increase in the number of festive roles since last year as employers are working to fill seasonal contracts for an anticipated festive rush.

With the largest proportion of this year’s vacancies falling in the retail, logistics and sales sectors, data from Adzuna has revealed that big-name online and high street retailers are stocking up on extra staff this winter, leading to thousands of temporary, part-time roles flooding the market.  Average pay for these roles is in decline and advertised pay for seasonal workers has fallen from £11.50 per hour in 2015 to just £9.32 this Christmas season.

Co-founder of Adzuna, Doug Monro said: “With a wealth of negative news hitting the job market in 2016, this boost in festive vacancies is sure to put a smile on the faces of British jobseekers. It’s not all good news, however, as average pay for festive workers looks set to drop significantly compared to last year, suggesting some top retail employers may be hiring more staff for entry level positions and cutting back on higher paid management roles.”

In addition, Royal Mail, Amazon, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have the most jobs available, with over 70,000 positions predicted between these four major players alone.

Sainsbury’s succeeds in battle to buy Argos…

After a four-month battle, Sainsbury’s has accomplished its takeover of Argos (Home Retail Group) with the owner agreeing to a £1.4 billion takeover.

With Home Retail shareholders holding 12 per cent of the combined business, Sainsbury’s has said that it plans to create a ‘multi-product, multi-channel’, with completion of the acquisition expected to be in the third quarter of this year. Facing competition from international retail holding company Steinhoff, Sainsbury’s can expect to see some Argos stores moving to its store locations as 200 of the 845 Argos stores are expected to close in the coming years due to expiring leases.