J Sainsbury plc is the parent company of Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, the UK 's longest-standing major food retailing chain.

Sainsbury’s currently holds a 14.7% share of the UK grocery market, making it the third largest supermarket chain in Britain with over 500 supermarkets and 300-plus convenience stores. The group also has interests in banking with its Sainsbury’s Bank business.


Sainsbury's was founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann, in London . The company experienced rapid growth during the Victorian era and by 1922 established itself as the largest grocery retailer in the UK .

Store formats

Sainsbury’s operates three main store formats; regular Sainsbury's stores ('Main Mission'), Sainsbury's Local and Central stores ('Mixed Mission') and Sainsbury's hypermarket stores (‘Main Plus').

  • Main Mission - These stores represent a typical Sainsbury's supermarket. Each of the 500-plus supermarket stores generally stocks around 50,000 food and non-food lines, of which around 20% are "own-label" goods. Product ranges include the company’s ‘Basics’ economy range, the ‘Taste the Difference’ premium food lines and the ‘Sainsbury's Organic’ range. Non-food items include clothing and a range of electrical goods such as TVs, DVD players and recorders, cameras and microwaves.
  • Mixed Mission - The 'Mixed Mission' format incorporates Sainsbury’s Central and Local formats, which are the company’s smaller supermarket stores and convenience stores. The majority of the 300-plus ‘Mixed Mission’ stores are located in urban areas of large town and cities.
  • Main Plus - The largest format of stores is internally branded 'Main Plus'. These hypermarkets, which used to be know as 'Sainsbury’s SavaCentre ' stores, occupy a wide range of both grocery and non-food lines.

Online service

Sainsbury's operates an internet shopping service known simply as "Sainsbury's Online". Customers can pick their Sainsbury’s items online and have them delivered to their home. The service is run from over 100 stores which carry the full product range – making it available to around 75% of the UK population.

Other operations

Sainsbury’s TU is the supermarket’s own-brand clothing line. The TU brand replaced the Jeff Banks designed range, Jeff & Co in 2004 and has since helped Sainsbury’s establish itself has the UK ’s tenth largest clothing retailer by volume. TU items are sold both in-store and online.

In 2008, Sainsbury’s introduced the TU clothing brand into its homewares offering. Homeware products, such as lighting, dinnerware, bathroom accessories, kitchen products and toys, are now provided online and in selected stores under Sainsbury’s ‘TU Home’ brand.

TU Home follows on from the Sainsbury's Basics homewares range, which was first launched in 2005, followed two years later by the 'Different by design' premium homewares range.

Sainsbury’s Bank

Sainsbury’s Bank was launched back in 1997 as 50:50 joint venture between J Sainsbury plc and the Bank of Scotland (now part of the Lloyds Banking Group). It operates under its own banking license issued by the FSA.

The bank, which now trades as Sainsbury's Finance, offers a wide range of financial products that can be purchased online or over the phone. These include credit cards, savings accounts, loans and insurance products (home insurance, travel cover, car insurance, etc). There are over 1.5 million active Sainsbury’s Finance customers, with deposits in excess of £6 billion.

Nectar Loyalty Card

Sainsbury's is a founding member of the Nectar loyalty card scheme, which was launched in the autumn of 2002 in conjunction with Debenhams, Barclaycard and BP. The Nectar scheme replaced the Sainsbury's Reward Card.

Customers can earn 2 Nectar points for every £1 spent in-store and online at Sainsbury’, 1 Nectar point for every litre of fuel purchased at Sainsbury's petrol stations, up to 4 points for every £1 spent when they use both the Nectar Credit Card and their Nectar loyalty card at participating Nectar sponsors, and up to 2 points for every £1 spent online at Nectar eStores (Dell, Amazon, eBay, Argos and many more).

Nectar points can be spent in any Sainsbury’s store, or exchanged for various rewards including cinema tickets, spa breaks, theme park trips, luxurious breaks and Tussauds attractions. Points can also be redeemed online for some rewards.


Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been the public face of Sainsbury's since 2000, appearing on television and radio advertisements and in-store promotional material. The deal, which earns the chef an estimated £1.2 million every year, also involves Jamie developing new and inspirational recipes with Sainsbury's in-house food experts.

In 2003, some advertising industry sources claimed Oliver's association with Sainsbury's had already generated an extra £1bn of sales for the company (more than £200m in gross profit.)