The notion that "most" Sainsbury shoppers are poofy southerners with plums in their mouths is almost as daft as the idea that typical Asda patrons wear clogs, breed whippets and hang pictures of Geoffrey Boycott in their outside loos.Yet, that's the sort of nonsense which has been put into the minds of some media pundits. Faced with the news that Sainsbury had unveiled its strongest sales momentum for a decade, the southern hacks with a lexicon which rarely ventures beyond "rip-off", "troubled" or "profit guzzling" tried hard to stick a sombre spin on the encouraging JS story. ("Hey, that fellow Davis seems to be turning Sainsbury around. How the hell do we write about that, Nigel?) Inevitably, their target became Sainsbury's "other front man", celeb-chef and all-round Essex lad Jamie Oliver who, we are told, doesn't go down well with the tell-it-as-it-is folk amid the slag heaps north of Watford. Strange that. This northern, now-of-the-south-coast writer has met Jamie and thinks he's a pretty smart sort of guy. But, back to the point. It's a pity the hacks couldn't have taken the same responsible slant with the JS interims story as they did with the Tesco versus Levi's jeans case. Mind you, it was funny watching the same writers who had vilified the multiples with rip-off jibes 18 months ago now jumping on the bandwagon to support the supermarkets in their fight against nonsensical laws. But then no-one, least of all the worldly-wise Sainsbury CEO Sir Peter Davis, should be surprised at anything the British media does. As Tesco, the class act up the road at Cheshunt, has often found, the hacks ­ and even some wet behind the ears City scribblers ­ often only seem keen to portray a darker side of supermarket life. It may be early days, given that the chain is only six months into its promised three-year "quality and value" recovery plan. But a rejuvenated Sainsbury, and all that means for the top end of the already fiercely competitive retail market, suggests we are in for even fiercer conflicts during 2002.And, as we have said before, that will mean casualties. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}