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Sainsbury's returns to its roots with opening of West Croydon Local

Sainsbury’s has gone back to its roots by opening a new convenience store in West Croydon on the same site as one of UK’s earliest ever self-service supermarkets.


Sainsbury's returns to its roots with opening of West Croydon Local

The retailer has opened a Sainbury's Local store on London Road on the site chosen by Sainsbury’s in 1882 for its first shop outside of central London. The shop soon became the “model store” for all other Sainsbury’s branches with easily cleaned tiling, which became iconic for Sainsbury’s stores, and wider range of food stuff than any previous store. 

The outlet continued to be a trail blazer for Sainsbury’s and was the first shop 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 study retail.

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.

The store was closed in 1969 but temporarily reopened the following year to become a special training store with dual currency to educate customers and staff about the new decimalisation of currency which was introduced in 1971. It was visited by 30,000 members of the public between February and November 1970, who were 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.” 

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

The West Croydon Local store, which has created 28 jobs for the local community, is Sainsbury’s fifth store in Croydon. 

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