After the media circuses that were the recent Tesco and Marks & Spencer annual general meetings, Justin King may well have thought he was in for a rough ride when he travelled up to Birmingham for the Sainsbury’s agm this week. 

As it turned out, he had nothing to worry about. So lacking in controversy was the event that fewer than 100 shareholders turned up. 

Sainsbury’s price position was the strongest it had ever been, King told the assembled few, and the economic downturn was not slowing Sainsbury’s growth. “Although price is becoming more important, we see no evidence of people dialling down,” he said. “Goods are becoming more costly and they are raising the bar even higher on what they expect on all the dimensions of quality.

“The issue of the year has undoubtedly been plastic bags,” he added, claiming that Sainsbury’s policies had led to a 43% reduction in the environmental impact of plastic bags.