Sainsbury’s in Pimlico really is a treat. And if it serves as an indicator for the direction of travel for the retailer’s broader store estate, then that would be an undeniably good thing. Being honest, I can occasionally find the Sainsbury’s proposition a little clinical, but the recently refurbished store near Victoria station oozes charm and character.

Previously trading as a one-off ‘Sainsbury’s Market’ concept, the store is now branded Sainsbury’s and has had a total rethink. The most obvious change has been the rejuvenation of the food-to-offering, with a variety of concepts brought together right at the front of the store.

With a regular on-the-go range, a sushi cabinet (replenished from the full-service sushi counter at the back of the store), hot food and pizza counter and a Crussh healthy food concession, three is more than enough choice to cover off most eventualities. Featuring a bank of dedicated self-checkouts, the result is a coherent and stylish solution for time-pressed office workers and commuters. Very good stuff indeed.

The produce department is nicely done with a plethora of new signage and graphics, while the fresh counters really are a step up for the retailer. A handsome fish counter is complemented by a lovely display of herbs, while the meat and deli counters are tremendous. All three benefit from some LED graphics and an array of value-added services.

The BWS section is now housed in a recess at the back of the store. Again, graphics and signage are strong and there are some other nice touches like a cracking craft beer range and a bay dedicated to cocktails.

The bakery is good too, set off with a lovely patisserie counter, with a good amount of space devoted to some pleasing displays for bread and cakes. The ambient grocery section is solid and includes some other recent Sainsbury’s innovations like a gondola end devoted to Godiva chocolates.

Non-food is fairly modest, with a focus on cookware and tableware plus a bit of seasonal, and the checkout area is a real improvement, with plenty of informative graphics and the words ‘Food Glorious Food’ emblazoned across the wall.

The overall look and feel is a huge improvement, combining modern touches with plenty of nods towards Sainsbury’s heritage, history and credentials. While food-to-go might be the star of the show, the rest of the store houses some notable improvements too – counters and BWS in particular.

All in all, this is an impressive concept and augurs well for the business, provided that the Pimlico store doesn’t remain a one-off outpost but instead is a blueprint for chain-wide improvements.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director

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