Name: Eric Nicholls
Age: 76
Was: Buyer for Sainsbury’s
Now: Chairman of the Sainsbury’s Veterans Association

Career background: Nicholls joined Sainsbury’s in June 1956 following national service, as a clerk in the factory costing office in Blackfriars. In 1971, he was promoted to senior management. After the factory closed in 1973, he became responsible for frozen food buying until 1978, fresh produce buying until 1985 and pies and sausages buying until 1990. He then assumed responsibility for the community investment department, from which he retired in October 1994.

What is he doing now? When Nicholls retired he became a member of the Sainsbury’s Veterans Association and was nominated as chairman in 1997. He has held the role ever since. He received a MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the Veterans Association. He also acts as a trustee of The Sainsbury’s Veterans Welfare Scheme and The Children’s Trust, as well as voluntary work for St Raphael’s Hospice.

What did you enjoy about Sainsbury’s? “I truly enjoyed my career with Sainsbury’s. The team spirit was of the highest order and many lasting friendships were made. We worked hard but were rewarded - it’s probably the reason I spent 38 years of my working life with the business!”

Are you still in touch with any old colleagues? “I still see some of the people I worked with more than 50 years ago and value their friendship. The grocery trade has moved on massively since I worked in retail. Although I miss my colleagues and the great working environment, I don’t really miss the long hours. Since retiring I have focused on working with charitable organisations and the Sainsbury’s Veterans Association, which I really enjoy.”