Sainsbury's secret training
Sunday 02 May 1999
The institution is not a member of the Association of Business Schools and was previously known only to an insider circle of management consultants.
The Sainsbury's employees, ranging from directors to shopfloor workers, take six-month, part-time courses that are designed to change their behaviour toward one another in order to change their behaviour toward the supermarket chain's customers.
The unconventional training programme, run by the London-based Piper School, is part of a broader effort to overhaul the company's internal culture in the wake of a string of disappointing financial results.
Last month Sainsbury's announced plans to shake up its 3,000-strong head office, cutting 300 executives, many in the marketing department. The company's director of marketing, David McNair, and director of customer services, Mike Conolly, are both to leave as part of the changes.
"Sainsbury's is reorganising itself to sharpen the focus of its customer relations," said an industry insider. "To do that people must be trained."
In contrast to orthodox staff training, which takes place on company premises or at a fixed site outside, Piper School students roam retail venues. They meet at irregular times interspersed with their normal duties in groups of eight to 12. "Once you start going, you never really stop, because you never stop the need for learning," an insider explained.
Founded in 1997 by Crispin Tweddle, a management consultant and former director of the Fitch design consultancy, the school originally did the bulk of its business with Asda and Kingfisher. But over the past 18 months, Sainsbury's has been a prime customer.
"You can't get a place at the Piper School," said a retail industry analyst.
"All the slots have been taken by Sainsbury's."
A company spokeswoman declared: "We do spend a lot of time and effort on training." However, she dismissed suggestions that there was anything out of the ordinary about the company's patronage of the school.
- 1 Kylie Jenner challenge: Bizarre lip suction device inspired by Kardashian sister goes viral
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bruce Forsyth backs assisted dying campaign: 'If I had Alzheimer's or dementia I would do something about it'
- 5 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
Electronic waste worth £34bn piling up in 'toxic mine', warns UN report
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
iJobs Money & Business
£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...