Sainsbury signs Jamie Oliver in £2m deal

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The Independent Online

Jamie Oliver signed a £2m contract to be Sainsbury's pin-up boy after the supermarket chain credited him with boosting sales over the Christmas period.

The 26-year-old star of the BBC's Naked Chef, who appears in television commercials for Sainsbury's and advises on product development, had been due to negotiate a two-year extension to his current contract later this year. But Sainsbury's bosses were so convinced of his contribution to a 6.8 per cent rise in sales over the festive period that they have already signed him up for the next four years.

Research commissioned by Sainsbury's revealed that Oliver's boyish looks and culinary exuberance made him a winner among the store's target shopper – the thirtysomething female. The "Oliver effect" helped Sainsbury's achieve for the first time in six years higher growth than its arch-rival Tesco, which uses the actress Prunella Scales in its adverts.

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "People like him because he is quite cheeky. They find his passion for cooking inspiring." The Oliver effect is well documented at the checkout: supermarkets reported a pre-Christmas surge in demand for tins of goose fat after he recommended it for giving extra crunch to roast potatoes.