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 being the best retailer for food and health and have set ourselves stretching commitments as part of our 20x20 Sustainability Plan. We made it a 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.
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 20x20 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 our Best for food and health factsheet.
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 more information and our latest developments to cut down on fat, please visit our Best for food and health factsheet.
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.
We have our own health pledges captured in our 20x20 Sustainability Plan, including ensuring that at least a third of any promotions include healthier options and the introduction of ‘Mix & Match’ deals on fruit, salad and vegetables helping to encourage variety.
We believe that customers should be able to make informed decisions on the food they buy. We were the first UK retailer to introduce front-of-pack ‘Multiple Traffic Light’ labelling 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. We are currently rolling out the new labelling, which will be fully implemented across all our own brand food products by December 2014.
We are also committed to helping our customers eat healthily on a budget. One way we do this is through encouraging customers to switch into our expanded basics range, which offers Sainsbury's quality at affordable prices. For more information and our latest developments on how we are encouraging healthier eating please visit our Best for food and health factsheet.
We continue to lead the way on providing clear nutrition information, enabling 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. All new labels will be on shelf by December 2014.
For the most up-to-date information on our nutrition labelling please visit our Best for food and health factsheet.
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 have also recently introduced calorie labelling onto our own brand wines to help customers make healthier choices.
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 our Best for food and health factsheet.
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 our Best for food and health factsheet.
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 our Sourcing with integrity factsheet.
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 2,500 British farmers (as of 2014) in our Farmer 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 doubling the amount of British food we sell by 2020. 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 our Sourcing with integrity factsheet.
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.
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.
Whilst the latest scientific research and current Government advice is that GM ingredients do not present any risks to human health, we acknowledge the concerns of our customers and do not permit the use of GM crops, ingredients or additives in own-label food, drink, pet food, dietary supplements or floral products.
We know that some people also have concerns about products from animals whose feed may contain GM ingredients. We therefore offer a choice of products from livestock fed a non-GM diet.
Following the industry-wide availability issues of non-GM animal feed it has become increasingly difficult to source non-GM feed. As part of our commitment to provide customers with a choice, the following ranges will continue to be guaranteed to have been 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.
For the most up-to-date information on our policy on palm oil please visit our Sourcing with Integrity factsheet.
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 our Sourcing with integrity factsheet.
We have dedicated regional buying teams in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England who continue to look for the best regional products from local suppliers.
For the most up-to-dateinformation on our regional products please see our Sourcing with integrity factsheet or if you are interested inbecoming a supplier please see supplying regional products to us.
We pay a fair commodity price, reflecting market forces, which ensures our suppliers can sell products at a competitive price in our stores. We have partnership agreements with suppliers, which includes working with them and producers to understand the pricing they need to make their businesses successful. We encourage suppliers to develop their products and help them to develop their business. For example, through partnership schemes and supplier development programmes.
For more information on our partnerships with suppliers, please visit our Sourcing with integrity factsheet.
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 forMarine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fish with 140 products (as of 2014) carrying the MSC label. As part of our 20x20 Sustainability Plan we have pledged that by 2020 all fish that we sell will be independently certified as sustainable.
For the most up-to-dateinformation on our efforts to encourage sustainable fish please visit our Sourcing with integrity factsheet.
One of our business values is Sourcing with integrity and as part of our 20x20 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.
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.
For the most up-to-dateinformation on our timber sourcing strategy please visit our Sourcing with integrity factsheet.
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 our Respect for our environment factsheet.
One of our business values is Respect for our environment and as part of our 20x20 Sustainability Planwe have set ourselves stretching commitments against this value. We aim to be the UK’s greenest grocer and 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 our Respect for our environment factsheet.
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, have a lower 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.
Surplus food from our operations is first donated to local charities or made into animal feed. To put our surplus food to good use we donate surplus edible, safe and nutritious food that’s either past its display date or has damaged packaging. When it’s not suitable for consumption it’s used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion.
We have also helped our customers reduce food waste in the home through initiatives such as Make Your Roast Go Further and our Sainsbury’s Food Rescue interactive tool which helps customers rescue food destined for the bin.
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.
For the most up-to-dateinformation on our work to reduce food waste please visit our Respect for our environment factsheet.
As part of our 20x20 Sustainability commitments we have pledged to reduce our own packaging by a half compared to 2005.
For the most up-to-dateinformation on how we are reducing packaging please visit our Respect for our environment factsheet.
It is important to reduce the impact of plastic bags on the environment, so we offer a range of bags for life and make them easily available. These include bags made of 100% recycled content and that are 100% recyclable.
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.
We were the first retailer to set out to use a comprehensive packaging labelling system, in 2006, 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 car park recycling banks in many of our main stores. This means we can increase the materials that customers want to recycle, including clothing. We are evaluating the feasibility of expanding this to our other stores. 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 our Respect for our environment factsheet.
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.
Part of our 20x20 Sustainability commitment is robust water stewardship, ensuring our supply chain approach is sustainable in areas of water vulnerability.
In 2014 we achieved 53% relative reduction in operational water use compared with 2005/06, saving one billion litres per year, and we are 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 our Respect for our environment factsheet.
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 active equipment and experiences. As of 2013 over 51,000 organisations were registered for Sainsbury’s Active Kids. Since the scheme began, over £136m 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 programmes help 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 by supporting a number of charities with our food donation schemes.
For the most up to date information on our work with our charity partners please visit our Making a positive difference to our community factsheet.
One of our business values is Making a positive difference to our community and as part of our 20x20 Sustainability Plan we have set ourselves stretching commitments in relation to our communities.
Making a positive difference to our community 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 our Making a positive difference to our community factsheet.
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 in our stores for people with special needs but our home shopping service is also available for those who do not want or are unable to shop in our stores.
We recognise that each of our customers is an individual with individual needs. As part of delivering excellent customer service, all store colleagues receive disability training as part of their induction programme to ensure that they have an awareness of the needs of disabled customers.
We provide the following facilities and services to make our customers' shopping experience easy and enjoyable:
Selected stores have specially designed toilets for our disabled customers. Please visit our store locator for details of which stores offer this facility.
Designated disability parking spaces
All car parks have designated disabled parking spaces. These are located near the main store entrance for any of our customers with a mobility/access requirement.
Guide dogs for visually impaired customers and assistance dogs for the hard of hearing and other customers with disabilities are welcome in all of our stores.
Help with your shopping
We will always try to help our customers with their shopping. Personal shoppers are available to accompany customers around the store and do their shopping with them. Further help is also available at the checkouts if customers would like assistance with packing shopping. We are also happy to carry shopping bags to the car if requested.
Induction loop system for hearing impaired
The majority of our stores now have hearing induction loops installed to help hearing-aid users interact with colleagues at specific locations around the store, including selected checkouts and the customer service desk.
Service call in petrol stations
The majority of our petrol stations have a service call facility, enabling disabled drivers to request assistance without leaving their vehicle. Our petrol colleagues will be happy to help.
Wheelchairs and specially adapted trolleys
These are available in every store and electric scooters are available in selected larger stores. The latter can always be requested for a specific customer, where space permits. We are also trialing new designs of trolleys to ensure that we cater for all of our customers with disabilities.
These are in most of our stores and can be clearly identified by signage displayed above the checkout. These are ideal for customers who use wheelchairs.
For the most up to date information on the work we do to support people with disabilities please visit our Making a positive difference to our community factsheet.
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.
As well as including competitive rates of pay, our Total Reward package includes a number of other additional benefits:
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. In our 20x20 Sustainability Plan we have made a commitment that by 2020 at least half of our colleagues will have received externally-accredited training. One of the ways we will achieve this is through our Food Colleges where colleagues can receive City & Guilds accredited training.
For other examples, and the most up to date information on how we support the development of our colleagues please visit our A great place to work factsheet.
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 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.
As of 2014, we have 3 women on our Board and 3 women on our Operating Board.
For the most up to date information on the composition of our board please 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.
As part of our 20x20 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 our A great place to work factsheet.
Helping people into the workplace is an important part of our approach. Our target is to provide 30,000 work opportunities for people who may have faced barriers to employment by 2020. To do 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.
For the most up to date information on our YouCan scheme please visit our A great place to work factsheet.
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 are committed to providing competitive pay and benefits to all our colleagues. In recent years we have invested significantly in our pay rates and benefits to make sure our colleagues continue to be paid fair and competitive rates.
As a responsible employer, our basic hourly rate is well above the National Minimum Wage and alongside this we offer a range of additional 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.
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.