One in 10 cases arriving at Sainsbury’s automated distribution centres still doesn’t scan and delivery accuracy to stores remains dire as the critical Christmas period approaches.

Although Sainsbury is addressing poor picking accuracy at depots and putting more staff into stores to keep shelves replenished, it is still dogged by problems at automated fulfilment factories at Hams Hall in Birmingham and Waltham Point in north London, claim suppliers.

Logistics bosses at Sainsbury’s leading suppliers that attended a meeting at the chain’s London headquarters last month said deliveries were still being refused at the depots, advanced shipping notes (ASNs) were late and inaccurate and read accuracy on pallet barcodes remained “horrendous”.

The meeting was called to launch a new quality assurance manual designed to improve supplier compliance at key depots.

All suppliers have been asked to come back with an action plan detailing what steps they are taking to meet Sainsbury’s requirements on a consistent basis.

Those failing to meet the requirements will be fined, which Sainsbury described as “a last resort to cover cost incurred if goods have to be manually added to the supply chain."

Morale at head office was very low given the large round of redundancies expected in early January, said one sales director. “There is also the issue of Sainsbury’s wanting a 1% reduction in the net invoice price. You have to have a quid pro pro. It’s very frustrating when you want to have a broader discussion about driving the category and you can’t get past this 1% issue. As for the stores, there is a basic lack of discipline that you don’t see with the competition, and availability in our category is atrocious. They won’t solve this by becoming the new Safeway.”