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Sainsbury’s unveils plans for first dark store

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Fresh from passing the £1bn milstone for online grocery sales, Sainsbury’s has now unveiled plans for its first dark store.

The dedicated online fulfillment centre is earmarked for Bromley-by-Bow in East London and is set to open “within the new few years,” the supermarket said today.

Sainsbury’s, which started its online grocery service back in 1999, says the new 185,000 sq ft centre will mean it can serve an extra 20,000 customers a week. At the moment Sainsbury’s Online delivers to more than 190,000 customers a week, and sales growth is put at 15% a year. At the end of September Sainsbury’s said it had hit £1bn a year turnover from online grocery services.

Some 10,000 people work in the online grocery business, which covers 96% of UK postcodes and is served from 214 stores across the UK.

The supermarket says that most of its online orders will continue to be picked from its supermarkets, but this new centre will give it extra capacity in London.

Jon Rudoe, Sainsbury’s director of online, digital and crosschannel, said: “We work hard to ensure we deliver the very best service to our customers and the opening of the new centre will enable us to maintain this.

“The site will be purpose-built with the Sainsbury’s customer in mind and will support our existing store-based operation, something that will continue to be the foundation of our online grocery business.

“I am confident that this new facility will take our online grocery operation to the next level and put us in a perfect position to meet the growing demand in London and the south east.”

Our view: This news from Sainsbury’s simply acts as another illustration of just how fast grocery ecommerce is expected to grow in coming years.

This is a market that looks set to keep on growing as the convenience it offers improves, both at Sainsbury’s and its competitors in the market. Services such as collect-in-store, and later order times for earlier delivery can only serve to boost sales in the future.

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