Sainsbury’s Open Largest Store Ever!

by Tony J

The 28th September saw the grand unveiling of Sainsbury’s biggest store ever. Tesco and ASDA already have a large number of supersized stores so, with a sense of great excitement, Fifth Dimension went to East London’s Crayford to review the new store and see how Sainsbury’s is shaping up to their competition.

First impression?

WOW, very impressed! Great visual impact and a busy, exciting atmosphere. The feel of the store was typically Sainsbury’s though with their trademark, orange livery spread far and wide. We all know how it feels to walk into an unfamiliar store for the first time – it’s confusing, but the familiar ‘ambience’ immediately helped me feel more comfortable, and very confident that the high quality Sainsbury’s prides itself on was still a major element in this new format.

Parking at the store was a challenge; attendants were on hand to guide willing shoppers into parking spaces but there simply weren’t enough spaces available. The car park was huge, but not quite huge enough to accommodate the number of shoppers keen to “check out” their new store. Despite the difficulty, I’m sure it was a welcome signal to Sainsbury’s that Crayford was going to be very busy.

As I entered the store I was greeted with a product tasting station. Nice touch, with many customers sampling the delicious potato and bacon being served in small pots. From this vantage point you can cast your eye over the entire store. Very helpful when you are trying to get your bearings in an unfamiliar store. Traditional groceries to the right, fronted by banks of checkouts, and to the left, Sainsbury’s expanded range of general merchandise. Added to this, there is an impressive mezzanine floor housing the largest TU clothing range I have ever seen!

New Ideas

Where to start? The sheer size of the store presents quite a challenge; is this really a Sainsbury’s? As I walked the store there were several highlights worth noting.

There’s a Take-Away counter positioned right next to the front door. The staff manning the counter were busily serving hot drinks to take away – a great idea for time-challenged Crayford workers looking for their early morning Cappuccino. The counter also works really well for the lunchtime shop, with sandwiches and soft drinks positioned close at hand, making lunch very quick and easy to grab. The left of the store houses the general merchandise department that modern supermarkets are becoming synonymous for. Close by, the travellator takes shoppers upstairs to a mezzanine floor with a massive 20,000 sq ft self contained TU clothes shop.

sainsburys-crayford-pizza-counterThere were a number of interesting additions to the usual grocery offer. The back wall of the store was adorned with an impressive counter display. Particularly interesting was the pizza counter where staff prepare fresh pizzas to order and, for an extra £1, they’ll even cook it for you!

Fresh pizzas were a feature of a number of Sainsbury’s stores 15 years ago and make an appealing return to the new counter offer. What was even more exciting was the fresh ready meals that are prepared in store each day. Customers can watch a small team of staff hand finishing a limited range of meals.

The products may only have a 2 day life, but they do have a real home made look that I’m sure shoppers will love.

Although the store was very busy, checking out was very quick with very short queues. For me that always leaves a great impression.

Innovation brings ‘Green’ Credentials to Crayford

The launch PR from Sainsbury’s highlights some remarkable facts. This store is the first to use technology that heats itself using natural energy. This energy is captured using bore holes buried hundreds of metres beneath the ground. The “geo-exchange” system, exclusive to Sainsbury’s, also captures and stores waste heat from the store, which is used to provide its heating and hot water. Adopting this technology gives the new store the same carbon footprint as the original Crayford one, even though it’s now 2.5 times larger! I think that’s something Sainsbury’s should be very proud of.

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s group commercial director, said:
“This is a very exciting time for Sainsbury’s and we are confident that these stores will be a massive hit with customers. With Crayford, we have worked hard to deliver an innovating, exciting store that has a number of new features, several of which are a first to Sainsbury’s”.

Sainsbury’s Crayford Store Takes the Fight to the Competition

I agree that this store will be a massive hit with customers, there’s very little that the store doesn’t offer. The layout is easy to navigate and leaves the shopper wanting for very little. This is the first of many future 100,000 sq ft plus stores, and I for one am looking forward to seeing more stores like Crayford in the Sainsbury’s estate. It’s been a long time coming but it’s certainly going to take the fight to the competition.

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