Sainsbury's launches project to improve availability

Project Mercury aims to see stock put on shelves quickly

Sainsbury’s is set to introduce a new way of working in September in a bid to boost availability further.

Under ‘Project Mercury’, it aims to ensure deliveries are put on shelf as soon as possible rather than being stored in the stock room.

“The theory is that deliveries will go on shelf straight away so that we have less backroom stock,” a source told The Grocer. “Usually deliveries come in a day in advance, but now it will all be on the right day. If it comes in that day, it will go on shelf that day.”

Non-food products in particular were likely to be kept in the stock room for some time, said the source. Products for the retailer’s current sale had taken up a lot of backroom space, for example.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman confirmed: “We are always looking at ways to improve availability and get stock out on to the sales floor faster. Following successful trials we are now starting to roll out a new system that will help us to serve our customers better. We aim to have it fully implemented across our stores by the autumn.”

The move comes just weeks after Sainsbury’s walked away with The Grocer 33 award for availability at The Grocer Gold Awards. It recorded an average availability level of 96.9% over the year and provided seven full baskets - four more than its nearest rival Tesco.

Speaking to The Grocer last month, group commercial director Mike Coupe said: “If you look at the way the business has moved on since [Justin and I] joined in 2004/2005 when availability was a significant Achilles heel, by internal and external measures like the Grocer 33, we are industry-leading.”

Sainsbury’s has also taken an early lead in the current G33 year, with average availability of 97.8%. It has also won three out of the four Store of the Weeks so far.