J SAINSBURY is to open its first dark store to support fast-growing demand for its online grocery service in London and the south east.
The dark store – so-called because it is not open to the public and only fulfils online orders – will open in Bromley-By-Bow, east London, within the next few years, the retailer announced yesterday.
The move represents a strategic shift by Sainsbury’s which currently uses its traditional store to handle most of its online orders.
However director of online, Jon Rudoe, insisted that its store-based model will continue to be “the foundation” of the group’s online grocery business.
Sainsbury’s online business now delivers to over 190,000 customers every week with sales growth of 15 per cent per year. In September the business reached annualised sales of £1bn. The 185,000 square feet site will help Sainsbury’s to keep pace with demand in the capital and serve an extra 20,000 customers each week.
Sainsbury’s is behind Tesco and Asda, who have already invested in developing centres in recent years to help support certain supermarkets in keeping up with online orders in their areas.
The group declined to say how much it is spending on the new site but said that the move will eventually create 375 jobs.
Meanwhile Morrisons is understood to be considering Birmingham as the first location to trial its new online grocery service before it launches in the New Year, according to reports this weekend.
The grocer bought Ocado’s warehouse in Dordon, which is close to Birmingham, earlier this year as part of the £216m tie-up with the online grocer to launch the online service.