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.
From the first year to the present day the staff have always played a hugely important role in the company, but how have the people and their jobs changed?
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.
Over the last 149 years the way we shop for food has changed dramatically, reflecting other social changes. Since its establishment in 1869, Sainsbury’s has adapted to meet the changing needs of its customers.
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.
Highlighting the story, and showcasing examples, of the Sainsbury Design Studio under Peter Dixon, 1962-1977
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.
Store Highlight: 173 Drury Lane
A description of what it was like to shop in Sainsbury's first branch and the changes it went through before closing its doors for the last time in 1958