Planners hit Sainsbury’s Central

Supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s is blaming delays in the expansion of its city centre chain Sainsbury’s Central on hold-ups in gaining planning consent.

The company, which last week shifted its 23m TV advertising account from Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO into M&C Saatchi after poor sales linked to AMV’s ad campaign, had earmarked a site in London’s Tottenham Court Road for its first Sainsbury’s Central store.

But the supermarket was forced to switch the first opening to Glasgow after the launch of the Tottenham Court Road store was pushed back to August. Sainsbury’s blames consent delays at Camden Council, although developer Land Securities says the site was always due to be handed over to Sainsbury’s in May.

The first of the new-look city centre shops opened in Glasgow on March 31 and attracted more than 7,500 shoppers on its first day. It signals the start of a major offensive to tackle out-of-town development bans as well as taking on Tesco Metro and Marks & Spencer in city centres.

Sainsbury’s has identified 30 potential sites for the Central concept which will offer top-up shopping and lunchtime meals and snacks to time-pressed city centre workers.

However, problems in finding and developing city centre sites compared with out-of-town locations mean the chain expects to reach that total within five to ten years.

Sainsbury’s Central project manager Nick Jones says: “There is a very different powerbase in large urban environments. We are much more in the hands of the developers.”>

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