Magazine article Marketing

Does Sainsbury's New Store Herald a Revival?

Magazine article Marketing

Does Sainsbury's New Store Herald a Revival?

Article excerpt

Sainsbury's believes the launch of a luxury store format will see it regain its number one position from Tesco.

If Sainsbury's were a celebrity chef, it would probably be Delia - reliable, respected, and fairly unexciting. But with marketing director Sara Weller's latest signing - the ubiquitous prince of 'pukka' Jamie Oliver - the supermarket is gamely trying to turn its offering into something far more mouth-watering.

Oliver was rolled out again this week (wouldn't we love to know how much he's getting) to open the store's new 'luxury' Cromwell Road site.

It may only be one store, but there is a lot riding on it. A tie-up with Starbucks, a 'caviar cabinet' full of high-end luxury food, and a wine merchant - Sir Peter Davis' new team has clearly been hard at work, and on paper it looks like a good blueprint for the future.

In recent months, the chain has unveiled two new initiatives aimed at proving it is keeping ahead of customer demand. Its new car-buying service will capitalise on the publicity over UK car prices. And a deal with fashion designer Jeff Banks will see it try to emulate rival Asda's George range of clothing.

But it's in the food aisles where the crucial work needs to be done. Having spent at least three years in the doldrums, Sainsbury's needs the boost that a well-received new store can bring.

The City also needs convincing that the company is finally moving in the right direction, after at least one false dawn under the previous management.

Picking Cromwell Road for the first major re-fit under the new regime is no accident -on one of the major routes into London, the store could act as its own giant ad. It is also just a short hop from Tesco's gleaming flagship by the Hammer-smith flyover.

So is cheeky chappie Jamie a better choice than John Cleese, Sainsbury's previous brand spokesman? And what does the chain need to pack its stores with to overtake Tesco as the UK's number one supermarket?

We asked Mike Godliman, marketing director of Verdict Research, and Gillian Wilson, account director on Iceland at HHCL & Partners, to tell us whether Sainsbury's is on course for big things or if its path will be as wobbly as a supermarket trolley.

DIAGNOSIS

So, Sainsbury's is doing a makeover of its store in Cromwell Road. That says it all. Sainsbury's, once an important pillar of middle England is now just another superstore, setting out its stall, playing catch-up to its slicker, fitter rival just down the road. But Sainsbury's needs more than just a little window dressing to pull it back to its once mighty heights. Success has bred a Great British trait in this once great British institution - rank arrogance - and a feeling that maybe it's not trying so hard anymore. …

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