A Family Business
When, in 1869, a young couple of set up a small dairy shop in a small property they rented on London’s Drury Lane, no one could have predicted that this would go on to become a nation-wide retailer, known to families right across the country.
From the 1890s onwards, Sainsbury's new shops shared a common 'house style' with long shape, tiled walls and marble-topped counters.
Changes to the high street
The market streets were the ideal location to trade from and the surrounding businesses complimented the sale of Sainsbury’s goods.
Women at work
During the 19th century, shop keeping was generally regarded as an unsuitable job for women, not least because of the long working hours and heavy lifting it entailed. However, it was both common and acceptable for female family members to work in smaller shops.
Before the First World War, over 75% of the butter, cheese, eggs and bacon consumed in the UK came from overseas. The outbreak of war brought an urgent need to cut down on imports to save foreign currency, and to reallocate shipping to the war effort. Food shortages therefore became a serious issue.
In the weeks before Christmas, the old-style counter service branches would have window displays of seasonal products like mincemeat, Christmas puds and dried fruit. Poultry and ham displays at Sainsbury’s were famous. Enjoy this festive read from everyone at the Sainsbury archive.
Happy Birthday Sainsbury's
We look back at the 150 year history of one of Britain's biggest retail firms.
Evolution of Packaging
The early range of fresh provisions sold by Sainsbury’s was weighed and wrapped individually, and any packaging was simple.
Art at Sainsbury's
Many branches have included public artworks as a prominent feature in their design, from murals and mosaics to concrete hippos. Discover more and see images of them here.
Butter and margarine
Butter was one of just three products sold in the first Sainsbury's store, and remained a key product during Sainsbury's development into a national chain. We look here at the history of butter, margarine and spreads at Sainsbury's.
Sainsbury's were a leader in the development of self-service supermarkets in Britain after the Second World War.