Sainsbury told suppliers this week that it needed more money, compliance, ideas and new launches from them if it was to become a stronger retailer and achieve its three-year targets.
&"We cannot rest on our laurels as customers will bite back harder than last time,&" said chief executive Justin King as he and his senior team addressed hundreds of suppliers at an IGD trade briefing in London.
&"They will not forgive us again if we make the same mistakes in the coming years; the bar has now been raised. Our offer today is better than a year ago, but consistency of availability is our key challenge now. It needs to be every store, ­every day,&" he said.
King vowed that he would continue to reduce prices, adding that he hoped sup­pliers would understand that it was an essential part of offering universal appeal.
&"Price is never a reason why people shop with us, but it was a reason why ­people didn&'t.&"
Retail director Ken McMeikan set out to suppliers how Sainsbury was planning to cut £70m from store operation in the year ahead.
As well as efficiency gains through its new handheld stock system, and smarter ways of working within its fresh departments, shelf-ready packaging would be a key focus with which he needed their co-operation.
He outlined in which categories suppliers were providing Tesco with SRP but not Sainsbury, including 100% shelf-ready deliveries in sausages and sandwiches to Tesco, while it received none.
&"We need colleagues to concentrate on replenishment,&" added McMeikan. &"Help us to sell more of your products by making it easier for staff to put them on the shelves quickly.&"
Brand director Judith Batchelar outlined the future for own brand.
She said Sainsbury would build the top and bottom ends of own brand, with Taste the Difference, SO Organic, Be Good to Yourself and Basics all to undergo substantial expansion over the next two years.
It would shift the mix from 90% of own label being under the Sainsbury&'s mid-tier sub-brand to about 80% in 2008/09. Organic would be a particular focus, with an aim to have an organic option in every category, including prepared foods, and a &"credible range&" in hot and cold convenience foods.
Relaunches of Taste the Difference and Free-from were also on the cards, she added.
But it was trading director Mike Coupe that laid it on the line for suppliers. He said they could expect a more open relationship, data and plan sharing, and a general picking up of pace from Sainsbury.
In return, Coupe asked for joint accountability, use of their expertise and resour­ces, as well as more money to &"pump prime&" the business. &"This is an opportunity to invest in a growing business. We offer a viable alternative to help you grow. Last year I stood here with my cap out, so I&'m now saying again, please give me your money and lots of it.&"
TNS Worldpanel communications director Ed Garner said that for the first time in nine years, Sainsbury had begun to gain shoppers&' spend from Tesco.
Rachel Barnes