Sainsbury’s says rosters not under threat

Sainsbury’s will continue to work with external packaging and branding consultancies, it claims, despite enlarging its inhouse team working in these disciplines.

The retailer admits that it has stopped working with non-food product consultancies as it prepares to bring product design in-house this October.

It is appointing approximately 16 product, packaging and brand ing designers in an attempt to boost its non-food product sales by £1bn over the next three years.

The designers will work across all Sainsbury’s existing non-food lines, including homewares, outdoor equipment and seasonal products. This will involve designing and packaging electronic goods, furniture, stationery and toys, among other categories.

The retailer no longer works with the Conran Design Partnership, which created its ownbrand homeware range, Different By Design.

‘We started phasing out working with our product design consultancies about 18 months ago,’ says Sainsbury’s head of general merchandise and global sour cing Richard Jones.

‘However, we will not be jettisoning our packaging and branding consultancies,’ he insists. ‘This is a meritocracy, so as long as they continue to perform well, they will continue to work with us.’

Jones names the retailer’s current core roster as Stocks Taylor Benson, BR&Me, Paul Cartwright Branding, Fab Design and Parker Williams.

‘Over the years, we have been through a lot of different permutations in the way we use designers, including using freelances and consultancies,’ says Jones.

‘But an in-house team will allow us to be more innovative and react faster to developing trends,’ he explains. ‘It will be easier to manage, too. If you are outsourcing, you need to keep tight control over the various consultancies, but it will be easier to carry Sainsbury’s design DNA through the many stages of product development with an in-house team,’ adds Jones.

The designers will make up part of the expanded nonfood team of about 150 new buyers, technologists, merchandisers and planners that will be installed at Sainsbury’s Croydon site over the coming months to create a full team of 200.

But the numbers of in-house creatives are lower than expected. Previously, Sainsbury’s told Design Week that it would be hiring designers in their ‘dozens’, rather than the 16 it now estimates it will need (DW 6 March).


• Sainsbury’s is appointing 16 new designers to product, packaging and branding teams by October
• Design department to be run by head of general merchand ise design Simon Stevens
• Product and packaging teams will be evenly matched, with a smaller branding team
• Teams will be made up of junior and middleweight designers
• Over the next three years, Sainsbury’s aims to dedicate half of the floor space to non-food products

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