Sainsbury's intends to include the River Thames in its distribution network after a one-week trial proved goods could be moved faster by water than on London's roads.

Daily ambient deliveries are to be transported by barge from a depot in Charlton to 12 stores near the river. Sainsbury's said switching to river could cut 220,000 road miles each year and contribute to its target of reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2012.

"The trial proved there are alternatives [to road] for us to be more efficient as a business, environmentally sustainable, and cause less congestion," said Roger Burnley, Sainsbury's supply chain director.

The trial was carried out at Sainsbury's Wandsworth store earlier this year in conjunction with the Port of London Authority.