Lord John Sainsbury, the life president and former boss of the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain, has died at the age of 94.
The great-grandson of company founder John James Sainsbury, he started working at the firm in 1950 in its grocery department and rose through the ranks to become deputy chairman in 1967, a role he took over from his father Alan Sainsbury.
He eventually became chairman and chief executive in 1969, taking over from his uncle Sir Robert Sainsbury. He held the role for 28 years.
Forward thinking: Lord John Sainsbury was the great-grandson of company founder John James Sainsbury
Under his stewardship, Sainsbury’s floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1973 in what was at the time the market’s largest ever listing.
The debut was dubbed the ‘sale of the century’ by the press, although the family initially retained a controlling stake in the group.
He also led the company through a period of modernisation as the British grocery landscape shifted from counter service shops to modern supermarkets, while also expanding the number of Sainsbury’s stores across the UK.
He was credited for buying prime sites across the South East of England, helping to make the Sainsburys property estate one of the most valuable among the supermarket groups.
Despite retiring in 1992, Sainsbury was made life president of the retailer and continued to take tours of stores and attend company meetings until his death.
‘During his 40-year career with the company, Lord Sainsbury led the business through a period of great change and had a major impact on retail in the UK in the 20th century’, said Sainsbury’s chairman Martin Scicluna.
‘He will be greatly missed by the Board and all his friends and colleagues at Sainsbury’s.’