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An employee's review of Sainsbury's Local stores
Member Name: Bethyn
Date: 15/02/10, updated on 15/02/10 (2263 review reads)
Advantages: Good staff benefits, most prices comparable to other big supermarkets, good offers
Disadvantages: Some products are alarmingly expensive
In the name of full disclosure, let's get this out of the way first - I work for Sainsbury's. Before I worked for Sainsbury's, I rarely shopped there. We don't have a full-size Sainsbury's in my town, but we do have a couple of Sainsbury's Locals, which are smaller convenience stores. The three in my town were all Bells stores before Sainsbury's took them over a few years ago.
I've only been in a full-size Sainsbury's a couple of times, and because they have a reputation for having fairly high-quality products, I assumed they would be quite expensive (I shop in Tesco and bargain shops such as Netto and Aldi, usually). That's not the case at all - their prices are similar to most supermarket chains. Brand name products don't vary much in price between the supermarkets, and Sainsbury's Basics products are about the same price as other supermarket low-end ranges, such as Tesco Value. I've also noticed that they also have a wider range of vegetarian products than most of the big supermarkets, which is useful for me.
Since I don't know too much about the bigger stores, I'll concentrate on the convenience stores in this review.
As I've said, Sainsbury's convenience stores are called Sainsbury's Local. They're pretty much what'd you expect from a convenience store - smallish shops in mostly residential areas that stock a selection of food and drink and household items. You can also buy your cigarettes and stamps there, as well as pay your bills by Paypoint and put your lottery on. Unlike the large supermarkets, Local stores don't have individual checkouts - the checkouts at like those at the customer service/tobacco kiosk at larger supermarkets.
Fewer products are available in Local stores, obviously, as there's less space, but there's still a fairly good range of brand names and Sainsbury's own. The amount varies depending on the size of the store. There are two near my house, and the one I work at is slightly larger than the other and stocks more - we have Basics milk, dark and white chocolate, for example, while the other only has the milk chocolate. We also have a bakery, which means we have freshly baked bread, cakes, doughnuts, etc.
There's generally an aisle for convenience food - small bottles of soft drinks, sandwiches, cakes, microwave burgers and the like. Our bakery products are in that aisle, too, as well as our meat, ready meals and fresh fruit and veg. There's another aisle for sweets, crisps and other snackfoods, an aisle for household and toiletry items, an aisle or two containing cereals, bread, biscuits, long-life products (such as canned food and instant noodles), baking products, eggs, sauces and herbs and spices. There's also always an aisle for full-sized soft drinks, juices and alcohol (spirits are kept behind the counter). We have a couple of freezers, and chillers with milk, yoghurts and other refrigerated items in. There are various stands with seasonal products on - flowers and cards for Valentine's Day and costume accessories for Halloween.
Seasonal products are sometimes more expensive in Sainsbury's than other stores - for example, Malteser Bunnies (which you'll know I love, if you've seen my other review!) are slightly more expensive. There are often good offers on, though. Malteser Bunnies are two for a pound at e moment, which means they work out cheaper than they do at other shops, and sometimes these offers can bring the prices lower than those of bargain supermarkets such as Netto. Cigarettes tend to be more expensive, too, and in my shop the range of cigarettes is quite limited. Never, ever buy a greetings card from Sainsbury's if you can avoid it - they are incredibly expensive, even for the most basic cards.
Sainsbury's have quite a good reputation when it comes to customer service, and while I can't really comment on this as an employee, I know that whenever I've visited a Sainsbury's, the staff have been polite, friendly and helpful and like to have a chat, which I appreciate.
Sainsbury's is a fairly decent company to work for, really. There are a lot of staff benefits - a discount card (although you only get it when you've been there for six months), double Nectar points at certain times of year, decent pay (above minimum wage), Shining Stars (vouchers to spend in store as a reward for good performance), and there are plenty of staff nights out. There are other staff benefits that pop up now and then - I got a staff-only coupon for a free jar of pasta sauce the other day! There's also a pension scheme and an option to buy shares in the company, as well as the Sainsbury's Social Association - you pay in a little bit each week (it's something like 20p) and then you're entitled to things like discounted tickets to theme parks.
Sainsbury's are quite thorough in their recruitment process - you have to take an online test, and the first two people to pass that test are called to interview. You'll be notified of the interview by text message, then you need to call HR to arrange it. At the interview, there are some more tests and the person who scores highest gets the job. At the induction, there are lots of DVDs to watch, workbooks to fill out and more tests to do. If you're thinking of applying, don't worry because the tests are quite easy! Working in a Local store, you get to know all of the other staff pretty quickly. There's also a good amount of holiday available. I am contracted to work 12 hours a week (although I usually do a couple of extra shifts, so my hours average out at around 20 a week), and after only being there for five months, I was entitled to 30 hours of holiday - since I'm contracted for two six hour shifts a week, that works out as two and a half weeks! This year, I'm entitled to 72 hours holiday, which is the equivalent of six weeks to me.
Working in a Local store, I haven't needed to deal with HR much since I got my job, and I'm thankful for that. There doesn't really seem to be enough communication between HR and the stores and it can be quite difficult getting your interview and induction arranged. I was offered the job by the store manager in mid-September and was told my induction would be October 1st (the lady doing the induction was away until then) and to await paperwork from Sainsbury's HR. At the end of September, I still hadn't received anything, so I called the store and they just said to await word from HR, and that my induction wouldn't be on the 1st. I got the text saying I'd been an offered a job in early October, and then had to ring HR again to arrange my induction, which took place on October 13th. My mum, who starts work at my shop tomorrow, has had the same problem.
I don't love my job - in fact, I hated it at first (I hadn't received decent training, but from what I can tell, this is unusual as most staff do receive training), but if I have to work in a supermarket, I'm glad it's Sainsbury's. The customers are almost always lovely, my colleagues are great and the benefits are better than those you'd receive in most similar jobs. From a consumer point of view, I'd say Sainsbury's is about average - prices are similar to those of most big supermarkets, and most of the stock is pretty much the same. The big Sainsbury's supermarkets do seem brighter than many other supermarket chains, but that might just be because of all the orange!
Summary: Great prices if you buy Basics or catch a product when it's offer, and great staff benefits.