Sainsbury’s turns back the clock with the opening of new West Croydon Local

Sainsbury’s has gone back to its roots today with the opening of its new West Croydon Local store. The new convenience store, which is on London Road, is on the same site as one of Britain’s earliest ever self-service supermarket.

The new store, which has created 28 jobs for the local community, is Sainsbury’s fifth store in Croydon. The store has already chosen its local charity partner and will be raising money for Croydon SCOPE to help disabled people and their families.

Sainsbury’s was founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury with a store in Drury Lane and rapidly expanded. Croydon was the largest suburban town in the London area in the late 19th century and John James chose this area for what was his first store outside central London in 1882, handily close to West Croydon station.

This store situated on no 6, later renumbered 9/11 London Road became the “model store” for all other Sainsbury’s branches with easily cleaned tiling which became iconic for Sainsbury’s stores “the aim was to produce a shop to ensure perfect cleanliness” and a wider range of food stuff than any previous store.
This “model” continued to be a trail blazer for Sainsbury’s and for retail in the UK. It was the first store to be converted to self-service in 1950. This innovation was the idea of Alan Sainsbury, grandson of founder John James Sainsbury, who decided to launch the format after visiting the United States to
retail. At that time most store were counters where customers gave staff their shopping lists and waited whilst their goods were packaged for them. This new format put the power in the hands of the shopper making it a much more enjoyable experience for customers.

As well as offering self-service the store featured a number of other innovations which later became standard including fluorescent lighting and also the use of Perspex, a material that had previously only been used to make the cockpit covers of aircraft like the Spitfire and hurricane. It was also one of the first supermarkets to include refrigerated cabinets, something standard in all food retailers now.

The store was closed in 1969 but temporarily reopened the following year to become a special
store with dual currency to educate customers and staff about the new decimalisation of currency. This was introduced nationally by the Government in 1971. It was visited by 30,000 members of the public between Feb-Nov 1970, all keen to learn how to use the new coinage.

Simon Twigger, Sainsbury’s Director of Convenience, said: “This site is a huge part of Sainsbury’s heritage and introduced to Britain a type of store that changed British retail forever. We are thrilled to be returning to our roots and we are confident that the new store, with a great selection of fresh food, will be a real hit with customers and the wider community.”

Earlier this year Sainsbury’s announced that it is accelerating the expansion of its convenience store business in London and the South East with plans to open 50 new stores by early 2014. This will create over 1,000 local jobs.

Sainsbury’s Locals now account for 27% of the UK’s convenience market growth, with sales of over £1.5 billion and year-on-year growth of nearly 20%. The company is currently opening about two convenience stores every week and has 560 convenience stores nationwide. Over five million customers shop in Sainsbury’s Locals each week, and in September, Sainsbury’s was named Convenience Retailer of The Year for the third year running at the Retail Industry Awards.

Sainsbury’s opened its first convenience store in Hammersmith in 1998. Last year Sainsbury’s announced that the continued growth of its convenience stores across the UK would create 10,000 jobs over the next three years.