Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2012 (Revised May 2014)

J Sainsbury Plc, Road to Recovery

by John R. Wells and Galen Danskin


In 2012, J Sainsbury Plc (Sainsbury's), the number three supermarket chain in the UK with £22.3 billion in sales, appeared to have put the troubles of the past behind it. For over 70 years, Sainsbury's had been the UK's largest grocer, but Tesco had overtaken it in 1995 and then Asda knocked it into third position in 2003. When Justin King took over as CEO in 2004, UK sales were flat and UK profits languished at 40% below their 1999 levels. He cut prices and restored sales growth, and from 2007 onwards, Sainsbury's had outperformed Tesco on same-store sales growth. What did King need to do to sustain Sainsbury's revival?

Keywords: United Kingdom; retailing; food; Tesco; Sainsbury; Strategy; Competitive Strategy; Global Strategy; Retail Industry; United Kingdom;


Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "J Sainsbury Plc, Road to Recovery." Harvard Business School Case 713-453, October 2012. (Revised May 2014.)