Sainsbury’s online grocery operation has been awarded ‘Van Excellence’ accreditation by the Freight Transport Association - just a year after an exposé in The Grocer highlighted serious problems.

The chain, which has 1,400 vans and more than 4,000 drivers, is the first supermarket to receive the accreditation, which it earned after undergoing a series of audits of sites, vehicles and drivers chosen at random by the FTA.

The recognition marks a major improvement in the operation since last April, when an undercover journalist who worked as a driver for Sainsbury’s for four months revealed he had been allowed to carry out deliveries before completing a one-day training and assessment course. He had also been told to change a headlight bulb on his van himself - and been given the wrong bulb.

“The accreditation is testament to the hard work and commitment of our colleagues to operate our fleet in a safe and legal manner,” said Sainsbury’s retail and logistics operations manager Simon Skeet. “We look forward to continuing to work with the FTA and hope other operators will follow our lead.”