Sainsbury moves into home shopping

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The Independent Online
UP TO four million people will be able to shop for their groceries without moving from their armchairs later this year after Sainsbury's said it will offer a home service covering major cities.

It will cost customers an extra pounds 5 to order shopping by phone, fax or Internet and have it delivered if they live within a 20-minute drive of 32 of the largest stores. For pounds 3.50 groceries can be ordered and packed ready for collection at the store. The group says it estimates 5 to 10 per cent of customers will take advantage of the service. In initial trials about three-quarters of customers preferred to have their food delivered rather than collecting.

Sainsbury's said yesterday that it would recruit 500 extra full and part- time staff to run the service in the 32 initial stores. If successful it will be extended to the largest of its 390 stores under the Orderland brand. Analysts suggested the initial scheme would cost about pounds 5m to implement.

While most of the larger food retailers have explored the idea of home shopping most found it complicated and costly to set up. Sainsbury's announcement means it overtakes its rival Tesco, whose Tesco Direct service runs only in Greater London and Leeds.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: "At the moment the service is in trial in stores in London and Leeds and I am not aware of any plans to expand."

Iceland has a home shopping service in a number of its stores in the Chester, Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Tyne Tees and Anglia areas. A spokeswoman said it had been very successful but there were no plans for further expansion at the moment. "We want to keep trialling and see what customers' needs are," she said. "These are very different areas."