New Sainsburys

If I didn’t know better I’d have thought Nick was a part-time publicist for Sainsburys. For the last few weeks he’s been hopping up and down like a toddler who needs a wee, desperate for the new store to open in Greenwich’s ugliest shopping centre, just opposite the old Borough Hall. 

He says “Finally we won’t have to deal with the hopeless Co-Op and its amazing queuing system and inability to regularly stock milk and eggs.”

To be honest I hadn’t even noticed that the Co-Op had stopped being a Somerfield – I gave up on it ages ago. I guess it’s done for now – unless they raise their game considerably. Though, thinking about it, the Co-Op in Trafalgar Road still has massive queues after it re-furbed when a Tesco opened a cough and a spit away, so maybe it’s a little early to write an obit.

The shops that I worry rather more about are the Royal Hill Lovelies – the high-quality, independent stores that rely on service and convenience rather than price to entice shoppers. All the time they only had a rubbish supermarket to deal with, they have been relatively safe, but if Sainsburys ups the ante enough, it could mean a slow trickle of shoppers just nipping in there after work, meaning to patronise the small shops later, but somehow slipping into the habit of it. 

Sainsbury’s isn’t top of the tree, supermarket-wise. A Waitrose would be far more of a threat to the RHLs. But it’s likely to have been the most successful food retailer last Christmas, and it certainly piles ‘em high and sells ‘em relatively cheap. 

We don’t really have a precedent in Trafalgar Road with cute independent stores (sigh) though La Salumeria had a re-fit after the invasion of Tesco, and it still seems to be doing well (it’s hard to tell, but it’s looking good, despite their sad loss last year…) And there’s actually been a new greengrocer’s open since then. I don’t know how they’re doing, but they clearly thought they could go head to head with two local supermarkets, when they wrote their business plan. 

Only time will tell. All I know is that Nick’s beside himself with excitement at the idea of shopping at Sainsburys. And I know the feeling. I used to have the same irrational joy whenever I walked into a Woolworths. I guess Nick will be hoping that Sainsburys doesn’t follow that particular shop’s career path.

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34 Comments to “New Sainsburys”

  1. Richard says:

    As you say Waitrose is the real independent shop killer. I (hopefully not tempting fate here) dont think the arrival of a new supermarket selling the same stock as the coop will really effect the Royal Hill Shops too much. I wonder of the late opening convenience stores on Royal Hill and South Street will suffer though as Sainsbury’s is open to 11. Also will its target shopper be more likely to buy a ready meal and a bottle of wine (and perhaps go there rather than the M&S) than a leg of lamb and an aubergine?

  2. Paul says:

    Given they’re open till 11, I think the convenience store and off-licence in South Street, in particular, will be affected.

    Seems to me this Sainsbury’s has higher prices than bigger stores – which isn’t unusual, that tends to be their policy. Apples are more expensive than the Creaky Shed, for instance; fish and meat offerings don’t look any better than M&S, so hopefully they won’t affect Dring’s or The Fishmonger.

    The one thing I was hoping for was decent wine – they have a much poorer range than you’d expect, again at unimpressive prices. But it’s still a million times better than the Co-Op, which under the new regime seems even more irrationally stocked than ever – and just as incapable of ensuring that they have staples like milk on the shelf. (Although on the bright side, they haven’t had that strange character with the three-quarter-inch-long fingernails serving recently)

  3. Dennis says:

    Paul: for decent wine, I’d recommend visiting Davys wine merchant next to the mainline station. Very knowledgeable staff, who are equally helpful whether you’re selecting a posh claret for a special occasion or, more likely in my case, some cheap and cheerful weeknight quaffing wine.

  4. Paul says:

    Dennis, agreed, Davy’s is great, altho they’re bigger on New World wines than French, Italian or Spanish. THeir range of Meantime more than compensates, though.

    Interesting to see James WOlfe kids roped in to help launch the shop. I hope Sainbury’s made a large donation in appreciation – the Royal Hill shops, especially the Creaky Shed, Drings and Buenos Aires have always been tireless supporters of school projects.

  5. annabel says:

    I’m pleased about this, I live on the other side of Greenwich near the Arches but on the odd occassion that I have got off the train at Greenwich and walked into Greenwich I was horrified by how terrible that little shopping are looked. So tatty and run down it really was an embarassment. Thank goodness it is looking a bit smarter.

  6. scared of chives says:

    I’d imagine that Drings/Creaky Shed regulars will perhaps go to Sainsburys for loo rolls but still shop on Royal Hill for meat/veg.

    The Co-op deserves what it (may) get. The one on Trafalgar Road always has a full display of crap cakes, pies etc – but never any fresh fruit salad, for example – and regularly run out of herbs, certain veg etc. I wonder how good Sainsburys’ stock control is…

  7. Andrew says:

    I think the danger for the shops on Royal Hill will be convenience. I for one would use the shops on Royal Hill more if they were open later one evening of the week. Working from 8 – 6 Monday to Friday means that my only chance to get to Drings is on a Saturday and that is not always possible. If their hours were more flexible I would definitely shop there more. The reason stores like the new Sainsburys are successful if because they offer convenience in terms of time – ie: they are open when most people are coming home from work.

  8. Oliver says:

    Don’t forget a big Waitrose is planned for Greenwich Creek (New Capital Quay) when it is finally built…

  9. Paolo says:

    I totally agree with Andrew. I love the Royal Hill shops and try to shop there as often as I can – however, due to their opening hours, this means occasionally on a Saturday

    If they opened till 7, even just for a couple of nights a week, they would see significantly more business

  10. Interesting to hear the comments about the Coop – my limited experience of it is that it is a million times better than its previous incarnations as Somerfield etc, having a good range of cheese (I hasten to add that I’m normally there out of hours, otherwise I would be buying this at the Cheeseboard!) and better stocked shelves with a wider range than it used to have. Also Coop’s labelling in general is much better than its rivals – a lifesaver when I was recently trying to source vegan wine.

  11. Kat says:

    On the Waitrose issue, I had heard last year that they have already planned to build a Waitrose store in Greenwich between Wood Wharf and Millennium Quay in the development currently being built along the river. (Not the ugly ‘Creekside’ one) So I guess that would put a spanner in the works if it came into fruition… havent heard anything of it this year and the building work there seems to be sluggish so it could be a while off before Greenwich gets a Waitrose….

    I went into the Co-op on Monday to find (not for the first time) them to have virtually no fresh vegetables! How they manage on so many occassions to order their stock so poorly that they are completely sold out I have no idea but I think the new Sainsburys spells big trouble for it.

  12. OldChina says:

    I’m guilty of always meaning to shop in the Royal Hill shops but have sadly succumbed to the convenience of tesco door-to-door delivery.

    (Hangs head in shame).

    My one hope for the new Sainsbury’s is for it to stock decent beers. Coop selection is very limited and West Greenwich has had nothing new to match the range of the sadly missed Threshers.

  13. Frank says:

    As someone once said, the best thing about Sainsbury’s is that it keeps the rif raf out of Waitrose.

  14. Mike says:

    “the Royal Hill Lovelies – the high-quality, independent stores that rely on service and convenience rather than price to entice shoppers” – well I wouldn’t hold my breath for the Cheese Board then. Service is not something that they know about. Better a once a week trip to the Maltby St Market, or the East Greenwich Farmers Market once a month for that matter. And don’t West Greenies every travel east?! What’s wrong with the beer and wine selection at the Theatre of Wine? Davy’s isn’t exactly supporting local.

  15. cerletone says:

    I have used co-op stores from Lincoln to London and am convinced their staff are given one objective: to maximise the length of time the customers spend in the queue.

    Walkie Talkie messages with “back-up” requests are opportunities to tell the staff in the backroom to gather round the CCTV monitor and snigger at the idiots who dutifully stand in line with their rotten produce. It beats me how they survive.

  16. Deptford dame says:

    @cerletone if you have visited as many of their shops as you claim then you have answered your own question!

  17. Richard says:

    Mike, we will have to disagree wot hregard to the Cheese Board. I use it most weeks and the service is always spot on. I think the point about Davy’s is that it is next to the station if you want to pick a bottle up on the way home. As for going East, why would you to shop if you live West of the Park. Theatre of Wine aside there is nothing there.

  18. M&R says:

    Richard, I assume from your comments that you must be a week day shopper there rather than a weekend shopper. For the past 3 years I have attempted to shop there to support local, but been dissapointed constantly. Weekend staff seem to be more akin to after school workers, lacking knowledge and customer service training. I’ve given up and now make the treak to Brockley for some real service (at Degustation).

  19. tintinhaddock says:

    I’ve found The Creaky Shed cheaper than the supermarkets on most stuff. Much better quality usually too.

    And Jason will often ask ‘have you tried these?’ and put something extra in for free – you won’t get that in Sainsbury’s or the Co-Op.

  20. Nicki says:

    Bit late coming to this thread – GP what do you mean by La Salumaria’s sad loss? I’ve not been in for ages and not up with their news. It’s a great shop.

  21. Sadly the family lost Michael just before Christmas. Apparently James plans to put a picture of his dad up in the shop – as a young man in Italy with his vespa. Cool, huh?

  22. Jason says:

    Andrew, Paolo – totally agree about Royal Hill shops. It actually pains me to walk past there with Waitrose bags from the Wharf, but as much as I want to get my food from there, it’s just not possible with their opening hours. At least in Paris the boulangeries etc. take a two hour lunch break and stay open till 7pm.

    Has anyone ever tried petitioning for later opening hours? I wonder if those shops truly realise how much after-work business they lose out on.

    Paul – “Davy’s is great, altho they’re bigger on New World wines than French, Italian or Spanish.” I think you’re going to a different Davy’s! Davy’s are famous for their selection of old world fortifieds – sherry, port and madeira – and their wines are nearly all Old World. In fact if you go to the winebar, two thirds of their wine is from France, and almost all of it from France, Spain and Italy. Even their house red is from Italy…

  23. Paul says:

    Jason, I like Davy’s, they do some things better than Theatre of Wine, but they don’t have several of my fave French wines – which Theatre of Wine do.

    A strange world, really, where we all like different things, but that’s how it is.

    (and yes, Either one of them puts Sainsbury’s to shame.)

  24. megandgosia says:

    My reasons for continuing to support the independents in Royal Hill:

    The Creaky Shed: I am always amazed at how much vegetable and fruit I end up with in my Onya Bag and still haven’t spent enough to use the card. In addition to choice and quality, TCS also mostly sells items loose with paper bags the key carrier instead of those silly plastic ones that supermarkets used for everything – including mushrooms.

    Drings: organic chickens and beef are more pricey than they would be in the supermarket but the quality is better and the meat is not sweating under the cling film, plus a Sainsbury’s will never offer the range of regular meats as well the variety of game Dring’s offers. Can you imagine venison, partridge, pheasant, rabbit (farmed French or wild Essex) in a supermarket, let alone such reasonable prices for what is organic lean meat.

    Cheese Board: well, it’s a grown up’s sweet shop. Not necessarily a cheap shopping experience but that is mostly due to the tempting array of cheeses and condiments. And, they wrap cheese in waxed paper, the old-fashioned way, so it dies not sweat!

    The Fishmonger: the cooking advice, the mix of white fish, oily fish and sea food. Kiln roasted salmon and manx kippers… when did you last see those in a Sainsbury’s?

    For wines, Davy’s which does plenty of the French wines by the half bottom or for a real treat why not stretch the leg’s and head to the Theatre of Wine on Trafalgar road. A detour but as it is another grown-up sweet shop, an experience!

    Co-op currently gets us through the door for toilet paper, silver foil and baking paper but not much else as the obliging organic shop in the markets gets our customs for washing and laundry products as well as Dove Farm flours and other baking ingredients. Come September the owner will even get an early order of suet and candied peel in so the “mince meat” lady can prepare her batch. Would Sainsbury’s do that?

    True the local shops are with the exception of The Creaky Shed a bit more expensive but portions are smaller with quality flavoursome food and they keep proper local hours but a little planning goes a long way. I look forward to my weekly Saturday morning “forage’ in the independent shops – it is time with my husband and time in our community – and hope to do so for many years to come.

  25. Stephen says:

    Ten past two on a Saturday. Two people queuing to pay at the Co-Op. Five queuing to pay at Sainsbury’s and two more at the self service tills. An assistant is putting back about twenty baskets next to the entrance, the isles have quite a number of people in them.

  26. we anchor in hope says:

    Any idea when the East Greenwich farmers market is due to return?

  27. NeilB says:

    More of a threat to the RHL are the over-zealous traffic wardens who’ve been ticketing with abandon in recent months on Saturday mornings. There are usually three or four cars outside the shops for no more than a few minutes, but I’ve seen tickets left within a couple of minutes of a car stopping there.

  28. OldChina says:

    I can confirm that the range of beers in the new Sainsbury’s is even less extensive than the Co-op’s. Looks like I’ll be trekking to Theatre of Wine after all!

  29. MsW says:

    The local shops need not worry, Sainsburys is barely larger than a petrol station shop. It seems to be aiming more at the food to go crowd i.e. sandwiches and ready meals, some essentials but not much range. Fresh fruit, veg and meat are fairly low in priority. The queue for the self scan and manned tills seemed to merge together and split apart within minutes, somebody really needs to sort it out. Anyway after I eventually got out I hopped over to the Co-Op which did have the supplies I was looking for.

  30. James says:

    Yep the sainsbury’s is a bit rubbish. It seemed very busy but has a poor range, and was so expensive for what it is, and compared to other sainsbury’s locals I’ve been in. Not a threat to the great local shops hopefully, let alone the co-op.

  31. Brockley tourist says:

    Is ‘Nick’ the Brockley Nick? If so you might be right about the Sainsburys connection.

  32. Paul says:

    What I want to know is what the council were thinking granting permission for this Sainsburys to open?! What is the point of having two major supermarket chains in the same shopping precinct? How is this in any way serving local people?

    Haven’t supermarkets done enough at closing down local/independent stores, and serving bland tasting fruit and veg and poor quality meat. It might be convenient, but it’s a pile of S**t.

    Yes we all need to buy loo roll and tins, but why do we need two of them side by side? Bizarre planning decision. You have to wonder how much the council were paid off…

  33. Just seen Brockley Tourist’s post – no nothing to do with me (though nice to see paranoia transcending hyperlocal boundaries) and would appreciate the Phantom confirming that.