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Colleagues from 65 South End, Croydon

Sainsbury’s Colleagues: Serving Britain For 145 Years

From humble beginnings, Sainsbury’s is this year (May, 2014) celebrating its 145th birthday. When the first store was opened in 1869, it was only the founders, John James Sainsbury and his wife, Mary Ann at the helm. 20 years later and an additional 15 shops were founded providing work for a further 178 Sainsbury’s colleagues. And 145 years on, there are over 157,000 colleagues scattered all over the UK in over a thousand different locations. Each one plays a unique and vital role in ensuring the values that Sainsbury’s was founded on – making quality food available to all - are as strong today as they’ve ever been.

Sainsbury’s has always been immensely proud of the colleagues it employs. An ever-expanding range of roles available within Sainsbury’s has allowed for an incredibly diverse range of colleagues throughout the years, each with their own part to play.

For many of our colleagues, working for Sainsbury’s runs in the family. Darren Burrows, a merchandiser in our Hunstanton store for seven years recounts the time when his Nan, Rosetta Ireland, worked for Sainsbury’s.

“My Nan, Rosetta was a Butter Patter for Sainsbury’s in the 1950s and 1960s”, recalls Darren. “I was perhaps a little young to speak to her in any great detail about her time at Sainsbury’s, but my father has told me that she was immensely dedicated to her job, and to upholding Sainsbury’s values. She was extremely proud to be part of a team that sought to provide customers with the best possible service and value for money on a daily basis”.

Darren continued: “I think there have been huge changes in terms of how Sainsbury’s has evolved since my Nan worked there but in other ways things have very much stayed the same. Sainsbury’s is obviously a far bigger organisation now than it was back in 1950 but I’ve noticed that the values and principles that the company was founded on, way back in 1869, are still very much alive because I see them in action every day. I think I’m just as proud to work for Sainsbury’s as my Nan was.”

Rosetta Ireland’s original Sainsbury’s nametag can be seen in the slideshow at the bottom of this article. 

So just how much have our colleagues changed throughout the years? Take a look at the sliders below for a quick trip down memory lane.

Delivery colleague, 1913

Delivery colleague, 2014

Kentish Town store, 1939

London Road, Brighton, 1958

Wellington Place 1950

Horsham, 1976

Another colleague with strong family connections to Sainsbury's is Steve Ives, a Senior Systems Administrator based at our store support centre in Holborn. Steve’s wife has worked for Sainsbury’s for 14 years while his Mother spent two years as a teenager working between 1942-1944. The longest family tenure so far, however, was that of Steve’s Grandfather, Thomas Houghton, whose career with Sainsbury’s spanned 30 years.

“I was only seven or eight years old when my Grandfather passed away”, remembers Steve, “but we’ve worked out that he spent 30 years between 1930-1960 working for Sainsbury’s in Blackfriars as a Warehouseman. I’m sure his duties would have been similar to those that work in the warehouse today; like organising and counting incoming stock, and ensuring everything behind the scenes runs as smoothly as possible.”

Steve went on: “When he retired in 1960 he was gifted a commemorative souvenir by his colleagues to thank him for his years of service, which suggests he was very committed and hard-working. One of the most important things to me in my role at Sainsbury’s is the relationship with my colleagues. Staff retention is very good here and I put that down, in part, to Sainsbury’s commitment to their values. I think my colleagues are genuinely proud to work for a company that has a positive vision for the future and I’m sure that influenced my Grandfather’s decision to remain with the company for so long.”

“Sainsbury’s has been around for as long as I can remember” Steve continued. “One of my earliest memories was going round the shop with Mum and getting really excited when we’d buy the strawberry mousses my brother and I loved. The supermarket is certainly a very different place now to what it was back then!”

Sainsbury’s heritage and rich history of providing employment opportunities has led to many examples of colleagues that have extra special family ties to Sainsbury’s – far too many to talk about here. Please do enjoy the slideshow below, filled with archive images giving you an idea of how Sainsbury’s colleagues have changed throughout the years.