Over the years I've had an on-off relationship with Sainsbury's. Actually, I tell a lie, scrub out the "on" bit. Back in the mists of time, probably before many of you were born, Sainsbury's had a reputation for quality. There may have even been a hint of smugness in the middle class housewife's "I bought it at Sainsbury's".
I can just about remember the Sainsbury's in Gerrard's Cross High Street, used as a location in Noel Coward's "Brief Encounter"- which says it all (actually, I tell another fib, as it was nearby Beaconsfield High Street, but you will get my drift); an old fashioned shop with a Mock Tudor shop front (circa 1914), with glazed Edwardian tiles, and a meat-counter, where a butcher in white apron and straw boater (or am I imagining this?) sliced out decent bits of ham on one of those stainless steel slicing machines.
So where did it all go wrong? Some might point the long finger of suspicion at Tesco's. In the 70's "Tesco Reject" was a term of mild abuse, doled out by little boys in long shorts and grubby, bloodied knees. Today, in London, if you compare the two flag-ship stores of Sainsbury's (Nine Elms) and Tesco's (The Hoover Building) Tesco's wins hands down. I'm a frequent (if reluctant) shopper at Nine Elms (purely, I admit, out of sheer laziness) and although the staff are hardworking and cheery, they seem to be constantly let down by bad stocking policies; at times, this so-called "Super Store" feels like something out of the good old German Democratic Republic, circa 1968. It's pretty tired and shabby, too. There are plans afoot to replace Nine Elms with a shiny new mega-store; part of the huge re-generation project in the area: so I'm watching this one with interest. Please don't get me wrong on this, I want Sainsbury's to succeed.
There, I've had my say. Which brings me to this fascinating book I discovered at the Artwords Bookshop in the fabulous Broadway Market. It's Jonny Trunk's Own Label, Sainsbury's Design Studio 1962-1977. It's a terrific book and a reminder that packaging of relatively recent years is an often-forgotten or overlooked phenomenon. In this case, I think images work better than words: