Sainsbury’s property portfolio is vital to its business. Without it, there would be no stores to trade from, nowhere to hold goods awaiting distribution and no offices to coordinate these processes. But most people are at a loss as to what our Coventry-based Property Department actually does. Hopefully, I can shed some light on what goes on in our Midlands Store Support Centre!
When I tell people about my job, they invariably react in disbelief with the words “Sainsbury’s does property?”
This probably isn’t helped by the fact that I graduated with a degree in Modern Languages, and my property-related experience prior to working for Sainsbury’s was limited to a couple of internships and eager reading of the FT and Property Week.
But the reality is that our vast property portfolio – consisting of mixed-use developments, store support centres, non-operational units, depots, distribution centres and over 1,200 stores of all shapes and sizes – is vital to our set-up. Without it, we simply wouldn’t be able to run our business.
It is the task of the Property team to coordinate the above, and the easiest way to explain what we do is probably to describe (at a very high level) the ‘Store Cycle’.
This then, in a nutshell, is what happens in Property, from Network Plan to disposal. Of course, the process is rarely smooth and requires significant interaction across the entire department. In addition, there are many different work streams and initiatives that run alongside the processes described above, covering everything from implementing new formats and sustainable technologies, to monitoring competitor impacts and analysing investments and financial budgets.
As a Property Graduate with Sainsbury’s, I’ve been given a unique opportunity to work with all of these teams, as well as the responsibility to manage a number of external agents on a variety of projects. I’ve gone from overseeing a nation-wide work stream for stores one day, negotiating leases with a developer the next, and then setting up a marketing website the following week! There is never a dull moment in this busy department, as I hone my technical knowledge and develop my skills whilst thinking about how to do the very best for customers, colleagues and shareholders.
And one thing I have learnt for certain: Sainsbury’s most definitely does Property.