The information in the question and answer guide is intended to provide an introduction to J Sainsbury plc, its operating companies and shareholder issues. Click on a question to reveal the answer. These sections are regularly updated.
Last updated: 17 September 2014.
We are committed to helping our customers’ live healthy lives and have set ourselves stretching commitments as part of our Sustainability Plan. We made it our priority to help our customers make the healthy choice the easy choice, by being the first to use colour-coded traffic light symbols on front of pack labels back in 2005.
For the latest information on how we are helping our customers to live healthier lives, see j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
We were the first major supermarket to introduce our own-brand Freefrom range back in 2002. We stock the largest range of Freefrom products which helps support our commitment to be the number one retailer for customers with allergies and intolerances. We’re constantly looking at ways to make it easier for customers with allergies and intolerances to shop with us by removing unnecessary allergens across core products.
We also issue product guidance lists which are updated monthly and available to download from our website
For the most recent product advice in relation to allergies please visit our Live Well for Less website.
For the latest news on our Freefrom range please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
We are a signatory to the Responsibility Deal pledge on Artificial Trans Fats Removal; we removed them from our products in 2007 and we also signed the most recent pledge around Saturated Fat Reduction in October 2013. We have a strong heritage in fat and saturated fat reduction, for example we relaunched our beef mince range in May 2014 by selecting leaner cuts of meat, which helps remove 2.34 billion kcals annually from our customers’ baskets by taking out 260 tonnes of fat content each year.
For more information and our latest developments to cut down on fat, please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
Our commitment to food safety is paramount across all of the food and drink products we sell and customers can feel reassured about the extensive controls we have in place to manage safety throughout the supply chain.
Our product safety management system helps ensure that at every stage from product design to point of sale all our own-brand products meet the highest standards of safety.
We provide customers with information through product labels and in-store leaflets to help with advice on preparing food hygienically and to minimise the risk of food poisoning. This includes tailored advice for the elderly, young children and pregnant women.
In our Sustainability Plan, we’ve committed to improve the healthy balance of our customers’ food baskets, to improve the nutrient profile of our own-brand food and to continue to reformulate our own-brand products to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat. We also want to support our customers to make informed decisions on the food they buy and we’ve always been leaders when it comes to labelling and helping our customers and ensured we have a clear Multiple Traffic Light labelling system. Additionally, our Active Kids programme has evolved to support registered schools and clubs with equipment, experiences and education for cooking as well as sports. We’ve also provided ready-made lesson plans to help teachers educate students about the curriculum’s cooking programme.
For the most up-to-date information on our work to encourage healthy eating and improve the healthy balance of our customers’ food baskets, please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
We think clear nutritional information is important in helping enable our customers to make informed choices. We were the first UK retailer to use front-of-pack traffic light nutrition labelling back in 2005 and in September 2013 we were the first of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets to implement the Department of Health’s new universal front of pack nutrition labelling across all our own brand food products.
For the most up-to-date information on our nutrition labelling please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
We continue to prevent under-age alcohol sales through rigorous application of our ‘Think 25’ policy. All colleagues are trained to check the age of anyone buying alcohol if they appear to be 25 or under and customers unable to produce valid ID when asked are refused the sale. We communicate this policy clearly to customers on signs in store, and we apply it equally to home deliveries, self-scan tills and proxy sales. We are also signatories to the Responsibility Deal pledge to prevent under-age sales through ‘Think 25’.
We have signed up to all relevant alcohol pledges in the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal and, as a responsible retailer, ensure we do not sell alcohol to those under age by implementing our ‘Think 25’ policy. We encourage our customers to drink responsibly and are committed to doubling the sales of lighter alcohol wine and reducing the average alcohol content (ABV) of own brand wine and beer. We also have calorie labelling onto our own brand wines to help customers make healthier choices
For more information on our work to encourage responsible drinking, please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
As signatories to the Responsibility Deal Salt pledge, we strive to develop products which meet or are lower than the Public Health Responsibility Deal salt targets, without compromising on safety, quality or taste.
For the latest information on our salt reduction, please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
We signed up to the Department of Health calorie reduction pledge when it launched back in 2011 and we have a long history of sugar reduction in our own brand food and drink ranges.
For more information and our latest developments to cut down sugar, please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
Animal welfare is an issue of paramount importance for us and our customers. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that our quality, safety and welfare standards are upheld throughout the manufacturing process. Whilst CCTV is just one of the methods we use to ensure that our standards are met, we recognise the value that CCTV footage can deliver in terms of training and the encouragement of best practice.
All abattoirs producing our fresh and frozen meat and poultry have CCTV as a mandatory requirement.
For more information on our animal welfare standards please visit j-sainsburys.co.uk/responsibility/.
We do not test our cosmetic, toiletry or household products on animals and neither do our suppliers. Animals are used to test our own-label pet food for flavour, preference and palatability in a similar way to the human taste panels we use for food ranges. These animals are kept in a healthy environment, which is monitored by us and our suppliers.
We have 2,000 British farmers and growers in our Farmer and Grower Development Groups. We work collaboratively with these groups to help drive leading sourcing standards, good animal, plant and soil health and efficient, sustainable production. Our customers want to buy British when it is available, and we are committed to investing in the future of British farming, and being the leading retailer of British produce. In 2013 we achieved 100% British sourcing for all our fresh pork, breaded and roast chicken, frozen chickens and chicken portions and our fresh chicken has been British for over 10 years. In addition, our fresh and frozen beef is British or Irish and the beef in our fresh ready meals, pies, sandwiches, quiches and soups is British, as are our fresh pork sausages and ham, and fresh lamb when in season.
For more information on how we are supporting British farmers please visit please visit j-sainsburys.co.uk/responsibility/.
Yes. We issue a Supplier Handbook to all suppliers which is our legally binding code of commercial practice. It incorporates both the industry-wide Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), and our own Code of Conduct for Ethical Trade which covers the employment practices we expect from our suppliers, both in the UK and abroad. All our suppliers must adhere to this code as a condition of doing business with us. As founder members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) our code is consistent with the ETI Base Code, as well as national and international laws.
For more information on our ethical sourcing standards please visit our ethical trading page j-sainsbury.co.uk/suppliers/ethical-trading.
Many Fairtrade ingredients can be tracked and kept separate from non-Fairtrade ingredients all the way from their source farm to the shop floor. In fact, keeping all Fairtrade ingredients separate is the ultimate goal of the Fairtrade system. Where this isn't possible, the Fairtrade have adopted the Mass Balance system to ensure that the Fairtrade certified producers still receive the full benefits of Fairtrade, including the Fairtrade Premium.
For more information about Mass Balance, please visit the Fairtrade website.
We do not permit the sale of own brand food, drink, pet food, dietary supplements or floral products that contain GM material.
We are also aware that some customers have concerns regarding products from animals that may have been fed a diet containing GM material.
As part of offering a choice to our customers, we offer a range of own brand organic products which guarantees the animals are fed a non-GM diet.
Our retail price is not related to the price we pay our farmers. Our milk prices are competitive for our customers, while also paying our dedicated dairy farmers a fair price that protects them against volatile markets.
Following a majority vote, our Dairy Group farmers benefit from a cost of production model - this sets a price that directly reflects their costs on the farm, building in a profit, as well as rewarding outstanding animal welfare and environmental standards. This price is updated every three months to ensure a fair deal for the farmers involved.
97% of the palm oil used to make our own-brand products is now certified sustainable. We have nearly 400 own-brand products, ranging from steak and kidney pie through to hand soap, made from sustainable palm oil from a certified source through a guaranteed segregated supply chain.
At the end of 2014, we became the first major UK retailer to launch a washing up liquid using palm oil from a mass balance certified sustainable source. Mass balance supply chains allow mixing of certified palm oil with non-certified palm oil. It's still carefully monitored but allows us to support sustainable palm oil quicker and more easily.
We have also developed our own labelling system to inform customers where sustainable palm oil is used in products. All major palm oil ingredients used in our food products are clearly labelled on pack. For more information please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/case-studies/2015/palm-oil/.
Customers have told us that too many logos are confusing, so we have phased out the use of the Red Tractor logo on packaging. We will continue to use the Red Tractor standards as part of our wider sourcing standards.
For the most up-to-date information on the work we do to support British farming, please visit j-sainsburys.co.uk/responsibility/.
We have dedicated regional buying teams for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England who continue to look for the best regional products from local suppliers.
If you are interested in becoming a supplier, please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/suppliers/becoming-a-supplier.
If an ethical issue is found, we aim to work collaboratively with our suppliers to improve the situation so that they meet our Code of Conduct for Ethical Trade. This commonly results in the most positive long term outcome for those involved. If, however the supplier consistently fails to demonstrate a commitment to the code and improving the situation, we would then review the trading relationship.
We are Britain’s biggest retailer for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fish with 185 products (as of 2015) carrying the MSC label. As part of our Sustainability Plan we have pledged that by 2020 all fish that we sell will be independently certified as sustainable.
For the most up-to-date information on our efforts to encourage sustainable fish please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
One of our business values is Sourcing with integrity and as part of our Sustainability Plan we have set ourselves stretching commitments in relation to sourcing. By Sourcing with integrity we act on our customers’ behalf providing great products at fair prices, in a way that’s also better for animals, farmers, growers and our suppliers. For example, our industry-leading Dairy Development Group was set up in 2006 to help our dairy farmers reduce their costs by improving efficiency, animal health and welfare, and by reducing their impact on the environment.
For the latest information on the work we are doing please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
Our products are sourced from all over the world - from the UK and Europe to Africa, Asia and America, from both developed and developing countries. We give all our customers the opportunity to make informed choices on product provenance by labelling our own brand products clearly and accurately.
We use our own brand tiers to utilise as much of the crop as possible and avoid waste within our fruit and vegetable supply chain. For example our basics parsnips will have large, small, tapered and even ‘wonky’ veg in the bag and when they are sold loose it allows us to use bigger veg. This is all done within the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) marketing standards. Where we can’t sell it as fresh, fruit and veg will be used in further processed products such as apple juice or ready-made mashed potatoes. For more information visit our blog post here.
We take the threat of climate change seriously. As a retailer our focus is on reducing our emissions, and helping our customers to reduce theirs. We know we need to consider not only our own environmental performance, but also that of our supply chain.
For the most up-to-date information on our progress please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
One of our business values is Respect for our environment and as part of our Sustainability Plan, we have set ourselves stretching environmental commitments. We aim to be the ‘greenest grocer’ and to act sustainably, address climate change and conserve resources. For example, we are proud that since June 2013 we have sent no waste to landfill.
For the latest information on the work we are doing to respect our environment please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
We are committed to improving the efficiency of our transport fleet, and minimising the number of road miles we travel. However, we also recognise that food miles are just one factor contributing to overall environmental impact. For example, our research into the carbon footprint of Kenyan roses and Dutch roses showed that Kenyan roses, despite travelling further, had a smaller footprint.
We believe in looking at the overall sustainability of our decisions - social, economic and environmental. We are committed to taking the widest range of information into consideration when making decisions to tackle climate change.
To put our surplus food to good use we donate edible, safe food that’s either past its display date or has damaged packaging. Surplus food from our operations is first donated to local charities or made into animal feed. When it’s not suitable for consumption it’s used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion.
In 2014 we announced that, in partnership with Biffa, an innovative facility would allow our Cannock store to run on power generated solely from our own food waste. This ground-breaking initiative builds on our zero waste to landfill credentials.
We’ve also committed £10 million over the next five years to tackling household food waste with the launch of our Waste less, Save more initiative. The five-year plan begins with a year-long £1 million investment in Swadlingcote, South Derbyshire to test some of the most innovate ideas and technology to reduce waste in the town.
For the most up-to-date information on our work to reduce food waste please visit
As part of our Sustainability commitments we have pledged to reduce and optimise our own-brand packaging. By 2020 we’ll reduce our own-brand packaging by 50 per cent compared to 2005, and have already reduced it by 31.5 per cent.
For the most up-to-date information on how we are reducing packaging please visit
On 5th October 2015, legislation came into force in England introducing a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags for all large retailers, including Sainsbury’s. Similar legislation has already been put in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, so many of our customers are already familiar with how it works. The government was very clear when it proposed the legislation that its primary objective was to protect the environment and reduce the number of bags we all use.
We thought about how we could best support these aims and decided to create a reusable bag, which we sell for 5p and replace when it wears out. Single-use bags have now been removed from our stores in England, Scotland and Wales altogether. Having already done this in Scotland and Wales, we know it radically reduces bag use and we believe this is the most effective way for us to help our customers use fewer bags. Our reusable bags are better for the environment too – they are made from 100 per cent recycled materials and can be recycled again once they have worn out. For more information on our position on plastic bags and the introduction of a bag-less online delivery option please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/case-studies/2015/a-bag-for-good-causes/.
We are focused on making it easy for our customers to recycle. We are committed to implementing the British Retail Consortium's on-pack guidance, and to developing and rolling out recyclable and compostable packaging on our products.
In 2006 we were the first retailer to set out to use a comprehensive packaging labelling system that not only labels each component, but specifically identifies the components that can and cannot be recycled.
We define what can and cannot be recycled in terms of whether local authorities commonly offer recycling facilities for the material. Messages include: 'sorry not yet recyclable' or 'most councils will collect this for recycling' to make it much clearer to customers what they can do to recycle or home-compost.
We offer recycling banks in many of our supermarket car parks. This means we can increase the materials that customers want to recycle, including clothing. Our recycling centres across the country receive the highest volume of donations for Oxfam beyond its own shops.
For the most up-to-date information on our recycling progress please visit
We send no waste to landfill. This has been the case since 2013. Surplus food is donated to local charities or used as animal feed. When it’s not suitable for consumption it’s used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion. All general waste is recycled or turned into fuel.
We are committed to robust water stewardship in our operations. Our Sustainability Plan also sets out that we’ll work with and support our key suppliers, farmers and growers to understand water vulnerability, improve water efficiency and promote water stewardship.
In 2014/15 we achieved 54 per cent relative reduction in operational water use compared with 2005/06, saving one billion litres per year, and we were the first retailer to achieve the Carbon Trust Water Standard.
For the most recent updates on our progress to reduce our water consumption please visit
In 2005 we launched our Active Kids scheme to allow our customers to collect vouchers for schools, groups and clubs to redeem for cooking and sports equipment and experiences. In 2015 over 34,000 organisations benefited from Sainsbury’s Active Kids voucher collection. Since the scheme began, over £160m worth of equipment, activities and experiences have been donated to nurseries, schools, groups and clubs. In addition, we believe that every young person should have access to an active lifestyle regardless of ability or impairment. Our Active Kids For All programme helps schools and community groups achieve this.
For more information see our Active Kids page.
Every store, depot and store support centre nominates a local charity to support in their area, which is a great way for colleagues and customers to help make a difference in their communities.
In addition, we have several longstanding partnerships with national charities including Comic Relief, the Royal British Legion and Carers UK.
To complement our Zero Waste to Landfill policy we put our surplus food to good use and have hundreds of Food Donation Partnerships in place between our stores and local charities.
For the most up to date information on our work with our charity partners please visit
One of our business values is Making a positive difference to our community which begins with jobs and our support for local economies. As a major employer and with stores across the UK we are an important contributor to local employment and local economies.
We believe businesses can make a positive difference to local communities through supporting charitable causes – but to us it’s about much more than just cash donations. We run a variety of local schemes to help our stores and colleagues support the causes that are important to them in their local areas.
For the most up to date information on our support for our local communities please visit
We want all our customers to be able to shop with us easily - including disabled people, older people and people with young children. We make specific provisions at our stores to make it easier for our customers to shop with us. Our online delivery service is also available.
We recognise that each of our customers is an individual with individual needs. As part of delivering excellent customer service, all new store colleagues receive inclusion training as part of their induction programme to ensure that they have an awareness of customer needs.
Below is a list of the facilities we provide in our stores to make our customers' shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. If you would like to find out what is available in your nearest store, contact details are provided on Sainsbury's store locator.
Selected stores have accessible toilets for our customers with additional needs.
Designated blue badge parking spaces
All car parks have designated blue badge parking spaces. These are located near the main store entrance for customers who have a mobility/access requirement.
Guide Assistance dogs
Are welcome in any of our stores.
Help with shopping
We will always be happy to offer our customers any assistance they require with their shopping. Colleagues can help customers around the store and do their shopping with them. Further help is also available at the checkouts if customers would like assistance with unloading or packing shopping, or if customers would like help taking shopping into the car park.
Induction loop system
Our stores have induction loops installed to help hearing-aid users interact with colleagues at specific locations around the store, including selected checkouts and at the customer service desk.
Service call or Pinpoint in petrol stations
The majority of our petrol stations have the service call facility, enabling drivers that need assistance to receive it without leaving their vehicle. Some of our petrol stations are instead fitted with Pinpoint. Our petrol station colleagues will be happy to help customers fill up with fuel on the forecourt when needed.
Wheelchairs, scooters and specialty trolleys
Wheelchairs are available in our supermarkets and we also have trolleys that clip onto wheelchairs. Our supermarkets also offer trolleys for disabled children. Scooters are available in our larger stores.
For stores that have a café, there is a set of easy grip cutlery for any customer who would find these easier to use.
We were proud to become the first ever Paralympic Games only sponsor at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. As part of this legacy we are now proud to be title sponsors of the British Para-athletics Team. Through our Active Kids programme we are also creating the opportunity for young people across the country to take part and increase their understanding of Paralympic sport.
To find out more about our Active Kids For All programme please visit https://activekids.sainsburys.co.uk/parents-community/paralympic-challenge.
In August 2015 we gave 137,000 colleagues working in stores across the country a four per cent pay rise. This took our standard rate of pay from £7.08 to £7.36 an hour; well above the Government’s new National Living Wage. As well as including competitive rates of pay, our Total Reward package includes a number of other additional benefits:
In 2015 133,000 colleagues shared £50 million in bonuses.
Colleagues are entitled to a discount card which gives them 10 per cent off their weekly shopping with Sainsbury's, increased to 15 per cent at regular times during the year (for example at Christmas, Easter and during the Summer).
A contributory stakeholder pension scheme, open to all colleagues.
Flexible and inclusive working packages and family friendly policies
Many of our 161,000 colleagues place a high value on the ability this gives them to balance the demands of family and work commitments. This is evidenced through our turnover rates which are currently at a record low, reflecting our colleagues' job satisfaction.
Employee Assistance Programme
This service is provided by a registered charity called Retail Trust, who is totally independent from Sainsbury's. This is a completely confidential and free of charge helpline, providing free support for colleagues who have a problem and may benefit from free short term counselling, personal legal or debt advice or who may have experienced harassment, bullying or discrimination.
Commitment to training and development
We are the first retailer to be awarded a gold accreditation from 'Investors in People' for our commitment to improve our business by investing in our colleagues. We’re committed to providing externally accredited our colleagues, currently over 33,500 colleagues have been trained through our Food Colleges.
For the most up to date information about colleague benefits and training please visit
We communicate honestly and openly with our colleagues and listen and respond to their concerns. 'Talkback', our colleague engagement survey, is one of the core mechanisms used to monitor colleague feedback, alongside our ’Message Mike’ colleague suggestion scheme and our Great Place to Work councils.
We know that retail is a great place to build a career, and we support this through training and initiatives. We are the first retailer to be awarded a gold accreditation from 'Investors in People' for our commitment to improve our business by investing in our colleagues. We’re committed to providing externally accredited our colleagues, currently over 33,500 colleagues have been trained through our Food Colleges.
For the most up to date information about colleague benefits and training please visit
We are committed to ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to access Sainsbury’s as an employer, regardless of their background. We firmly believe that our diverse workforce helps us to meet the varying needs of our customers, as well as providing the opportunity for all to gain meaningful work.
We have a an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion people policy, and seek to ensure that all colleagues, job applicants, customers, contractors and suppliers should be treated fairly regardless of race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. Our aim is that all colleagues should be able to work in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying, and that they should not be disadvantaged by conditions or requirements that are unjust or unfair.
In 2015 we were proud to be co-sponsors of the largest ever survey of race at work in the UK. Run by Business in the Community, the survey was completed by over 24,000 respondents to record the experience of ethnic minorities at work in the UK. We’ll be using the results of this survey to build on our own action plans and understand how we can help colleagues from all backgrounds progress in their careers with us.
As of 2014, we have 3 women on our Board and 2 women on our Operating Board.
For the most up to date information on the composition of our board please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/about-us/management-and-board and for more information, consult our Annual Report.
We have regularly featured in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers and there are fantastic opportunities for graduates with us. We look for ambitious, intelligent individuals who want to help drive our business forward.
For the latest opportunities for graduates please visit our graduate recruitment page.
As part of our Sustainability Plan we have set ourselves stretching commitments to ensure we remain a great place to work. We’re committed to providing a workplace where people feel they are given the right opportunities to succeed in a safe, healthy and respectful environment.
For more information on how we are performing against these targets please visit
We are committed to being an inclusive work force that offers employment opportunities to all members of the community. Helping people into the workplace is an important part of our approach. To support this, we set up our ‘You Can’ scheme in 2008 to help people who may have faced barriers get back into work – including the long-term unemployed and those with disabilities. Since 2008 we’ve recruited 25,000 colleagues through the You Can programme.
For the most up to date information on our You Can scheme please visit
We pay location pay on top of our base rates in certain stores where the local market pay rates deem it necessary, which makes the total rate per hour relevant and competitive for the specific location. We also pay skills payments on top of our base rates for certain roles to recognise additional skills or responsibilities that are required by colleagues to fulfil those roles.
We’re committed to providing competitive pay and benefits to all our colleagues. In recent years we have invested significantly in our pay rates and benefits including competitive bonuses, a store discount card, skills premiums, paid breaks, payouts from our share schemes and a contributory pension scheme with Sainsbury's matching payments. We also have a location allowance to reflect factors such as local pay rates, competition and higher living costs in places such as London.
In August 2015 our retail colleagues received a four per cent pay increase, our highest increase in over a decade. This means 137,000 colleagues are now paid an hourly rate of £7.36, above the National Living Wage and the current National Minimum Wage. As part of our benefit package, 133,000 colleagues shared £50m in bonuses in 2014/15.
By 2020 we’ve committed to exceeding the National Living Wage proposal of £9 per hour and addressing the gender pay gap through our Sustainable Plan. For more information or updates to colleague pay please visit j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/.
Launched in May 2008, 'Rightline' is our entirely confidential and independently run 'hotline' service. This provides suppliers and colleagues with a direct route to raise serious concerns relating to fraud, theft or breaches of our codes of practice. Concerns raised through this mechanism are strictly monitored.