In the past three years, Justin King has done a fantastic job, reversing faltering growth and rejuvenating the retailer's struggling supply chain by ending its logistics contract with Accenture. But the spectre of poor availability seems to have reappeared at Sainsbury's. The Grocer 33 shows multiple out-of-stock items in the past four weeks at Sainsbury's outlets, and further reports of low stocks have since come from our team of mystery shoppers drafted in to get a broader perspective. 

Sainsbury's responded by claiming it can provide receipts that prove six out-of-stock items were in fact being traded at the store featured in this issue. But 20 different reports of exposed shelves paint a very different picture. Granted, fresh produce stocks have been hit by the wettest July on record - but only three of the 14 out-of-stock items were fruit and veg. But Sainsbury's is not alone. Out-of-stock items in The Grocer 33 are also creeping up at Asda and Somerfield. With 89% availability in the last four weeks, is all the attention from private equity suitors finally distracting operations?