British Retailer Sainsbury's: On the Road to Recovery

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR302 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
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Turnaround Strategy
Case Length : 26 Pages
Period : 1995-2008
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Sainsbury's
Industry : Retail
Countries : UK


Sainsbury's, one of the leading supermarket chains in the UK and part of the J Sainsbury Group, was started in 1869. It became the leading retailer in the early 1900s and enjoyed supremacy in the market till the early 1990s. The case discusses how Sainsbury's failed to recognize the threat from the growing competition, leading to it losing its leadership position to competitor Tesco in 1995. The company further started to lose market share, although sales were still happening. The case also talks about some of its recovery strategies under different CEOs, particularly the business transformation initiated by Peter Davis, which did not produce the desired results.

In 2003, Asda ousted Sainsbury's from the No.2 position. Justin King was brought in as the CEO in 2004 to help the company recover from the losses and resurrect the business. The case discusses the various strategies and decisions taken by Justin King, detailing his plan 'Making Sainsbury's Great Again'. It also highlights the three-year recovery targets that he set for the company and how he went about achieving them. The case concludes with the details of 'Recovery to growth plan' that Justin King had proposed to steer Sainsbury's ahead and some challenges that the company was facing in the market.


Examine reasons for Sainsbury's growth and its subsequent slide in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Analyze the reasons for the recovery efforts taken under various CEOs including Peter Davis that did not yield the desired results.

Analyze Justin King's 'Making Sainsbury's Great Again' plan.

Ascertain the challenges the company is likely to face in the future and explore future strategies that the retailer can adopt.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 3
Beginning of The Fall (1995-2000) 6
Efforts to Recover Under Peter Davis (2000-2004) 7
...And Then Came Justin King 10
King's Initiatives to Make Sainsbury's Great Again 10
Is Sainsbury's Great Again? 16
The Road Ahead 17
Exhibits 19


Turnaround, Business transformation, Brand communication, Supply chain, Store operations, Making Sainsbury's great again, Recovery to growth plan, UK grocery market, Sainsbury's, Justin King, Retail, Tesco, Clubcard, Asda

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