Ex-supermarket boss Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover dies at 94

Image source, Sainsbury's
Image caption,
Lord Sainsbury hosted a visit by the Queen to celebrate the supermarket's 150th anniversary

The former chairman and chief executive of supermarket chain Sainsbury's, Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, has died aged 94, the company has announced.

During his 40-year career with the firm he covered several roles, becoming a director in 1958 before being promoted to lead the business in 1969.

Lord Sainsbury retired from the company in 1992, becoming its life president.

Sainsbury's current CEO Simon Roberts described him as "one of the great retailers of his time".

He added he was "a shopkeeper to his core" and "was ambitious for the company and led Sainsbury's through an unprecedented period of growth; he was a truly inspirational man".

Martin Scicluna, chairman of Sainsbury's, said he would be "greatly missed" by all his friends and colleagues.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
John Sainsbury photographed in 1973 as the company went on the London Stock Exchange

John Davan Sainsbury started working in his family's business in 1950, after national service and university, initially taking on a role in the grocery department.

His time at Sainsbury's saw the company grow from a regional, middle-sized grocery chain, to a national household name.

Lord Sainsbury became biscuit buyer in 1951 and bacon buyer from 1956, according to The Sainsbury's Archive.

A visit to Canada inspired a new method of producing bacon for the new self-service market which he developed and piloted at the abattoir at Haverhill, the archive said.

He was also heavily involved in the development of Sainsbury's own range of products, personally approving every packaging design, it said.

Lord Sainsbury led the company through other significant changes, including conversion to scanning, the introduction of debit and credit cards, and energy management, it added.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
John Sainsbury, centre left, at a celebration of the company's centenary on 15 April 1969

In 1980 he was knighted by the Queen for services to the food retailing industry and with his brothers Simon and Timothy helped transform Sainsbury's.

In 1991, former managing director Sir Roy Griffiths said no senior member of a family ever cherished the family traditions more closely than Lord Sainsbury.

He added: "No chairman has ever looked after the corporate values so committedly, and nothing has been too much, no generosity too great for people who serve the customer, and by definition the company well."

Lord Sainsbury, whose mantra was "retail is in the detail" retired from his role as chief executive and chairman in 1992.

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