Charlton Sainsbury’s: First look inside the brand new store

Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015

Some local blogs do the opening of new pop-up boutique vintage street food cat cafes. In Charlton, we get to do whacking great supermarkets.

Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015

16 years ago, Jamie Oliver opened the “eco” Sainsbury’s at east Greenwich. That store closed without ceremony last night, and the supermarket giant has reopened a mile down the road, in a less impressive building.

Today’s opening didn’t have anyone off the telly there, but it did have new local MP Matt Pennycook and Greenwich Council’s regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe on hand for the inevitable photocall for weekly council rag Greenwich Time.

Maybe Danny Thorpe brought up the matter of the store flouting planning rules over its giant signs? Who knows. Doubt you’ll read any of that in Greenwich Time.

Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015

With a brief apology for keeping us all waiting, the store opened to the public at the stroke of nine o’clock.

So what’s it like inside? Well, there’s a greater emphasis on homeware, electricals and clothing. And it’s a bit weird walking through a perfectly-stocked supermarket where nobody’s bought anything yet.

Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2014
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015
Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015

In short, it looks like any other supermarket. What did you expect?

But it’ll be a rude shock for those used to the curved lines and natural daylight of the Greenwich store – likely to be flattened and replaced with an Ikea, although the Swedish furniture giant doesn’t have detailed planning permission yet.

Charlton Sainsbury's, 24 June 2015

So, how will the new store do? It’ll certainly lose some custom in the short term – Transport for London has refused developer funds to help extend bus route 202 from Blackheath to the new store, and many Greenwich Millennium Village residents may decide it’s a schlep too far.

With the trends towards home delivery and smaller stores, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out. A wider range of goods may encourage customers to stay longer. It’s worth noting this new store is not a 24-hour branch. And with the newish Sainsbury’s Local on Charlton Church Lane thriving, the chain is clearly hedging its bets.

How the new store fits in with its surroundings is an issue. I’m not sure it stands up to past promises made to local groups. Rat-running and traffic is likely to be a problem. Access isn’t particularly cycle-friendly. And the new pedestrian crossing – which appears to be in the wrong place – has been already been hit by a driver.

Charlton M&S, 24 June 2015

But the next part of the story comes in a couple of weeks – for M&S is opening on 9 July. It’s likely this retail complex will be both a benefit and a burden – just how much of each, we’ll see in the weeks and months to come.

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26 thoughts on “Charlton Sainsbury’s: First look inside the brand new store

  1. fromthemurkydepths June 24, 2015 / 11:38

    I’ve wrote my thoughts a few times – it’s a complete waste of land to have big boxes and swaths of tarmac with the huge need for housing and population growth. Very outdated thinking. With current planning rules the council should have pushed for underground or multi-storey parking, the stores and then substantial housing above.

    Sainsburys is now pushing this model in many areas – the latest being Whitechapel, where plans were revealed a few weeks ago. Unfortunately Greenwich adopted a masterplan in 2012 which for some bizarre reason designated this area as retail only, so the chance for housing was reduced, and they didn’t have much leverage if they pushed for it.

    Has work started on the other retail park on Bugsby’s way? It’s this one where Matalan was located: https://fromthemurkydepths.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/more-giant-retail-sheds-for-charlton-coming-soon-and-its-not-ikea/

    A few alterations there were in for planning recently. A slightly bigger car park, entrances altered etc. The car park increase was rejected (though what’s the point at this stage?) but may be included in another separate, wider application.

  2. clogsilk June 24, 2015 / 12:16

    If I had my way I’d get rid of all the retail barns and completely rezone most of the area for housing, of up to 5 stories high, with cycling and walking routes as standard. One can but dream.

    • JJNSE7 June 24, 2015 / 14:10

      Completly agree, 5 stories gives you good density without that soaring tower block feel. Retail at ground level, housing above and parking underground with the opportunity to create public spaces (that are not carparks or forecourts).

      might seem like a dream but given the lifespan of the old Sainsburys the site could be ripe for redevelopment in less than 15 years!

  3. Sarah Roseblade June 24, 2015 / 12:59

    Thanks for a very detailed review Champion, saves me going down there, just did my online shopping as usual today!

  4. Mary June 24, 2015 / 14:38

    Thanks, Darryl, for being on the spot at the right time and keeping us all in the frame! I do just want to say, that although many of us just read the Champion quietly, and don’t always respond, your efforts are much appreciated, and help to give that nice cosy community feeling. Cheers!

  5. Chris June 24, 2015 / 17:21

    Agreed Mary.

  6. Caff June 25, 2015 / 08:02

    I’m upset that this new store isn’t 24 hour. I used to do my shopping at 5am, before work, but now I shall have to use Asda instead.
    The Sainsbury’s night staff were lovely. Nothing was too much trouble for them – and I shall miss them.

    • Mrs J Snipp July 3, 2015 / 13:26

      We the residents, are not upset that the New Sainsburys are not open all night. I guess you do not live down this way. If you did ,you might understand the need for a bit of peace & quiet, sometime in 24 Hours.

      • ThePirateKing July 19, 2015 / 17:33

        I’m a local resident and actually Joyce I really wish the new place was 24 hours like the old Eco version. It was often useful to pop in on a midnight run if on the way back from somewhere – especially the Odeon. Shame the new place isn’t. I don’t think it would have added much midnight traffic either.

    • Carol August 2, 2015 / 18:46

      One thing I can say Mrs Snipp was that Sainsbury’s at night was never noisy. There were not enough people there for that to happen. It was always eerily quiet when I went there as with most 24 hour stores I’ve been to. I too was very disappointed to hear that it would not be 24 hours and now am forced to shop elsewhere.
      Thanks for the report.

  7. The Hebridean June 26, 2015 / 12:05

    Another wasted opportunity with profit put before people and their real interests. Vile building and I refuse to believe it is in any way sustainable .. . .

    • Mrs J Snipp July 3, 2015 / 13:27

      Hear Hear!

  8. Simon June 27, 2015 / 14:23

    Is it my imagination or are they passing half the building costs on to the customer? There seem to be far fewer multi-buy offers on meat and wine. If I’ve got to go halfway to Woolwich for a supermarket shop now, I may as well go the whole way and use the wonderful Lidl where I can get more interesting stuff for half the price.

    Also, that LED displaying telling you your registration number when you drive into the car park…Seriously creepy.

    • Mrs J Snipp July 3, 2015 / 13:30

      Carry on to Thamesmead Simon, and sample Aldi’s &Wilko’s.

  9. Boneyboy June 28, 2015 / 14:29

    I went searching for the Pharmacy counter, couldn’t find it and when I asked was told that it wouldn’t be opening until some time in August.

    • Cecilia September 6, 2015 / 12:12

      Has it opened? I cannot find it and we are now September.

  10. Alex June 28, 2015 / 21:15

    Are you now able to cross Woolwich Rd from Charlton Church Ln or do you still have to turn left at that junction?

    • Simon June 29, 2015 / 10:23

      It’s still left turn only. If you want to go towards Greenwich you have to turn left out of Sainsbury’s (on their new approach road) and go back round Bugsby’s Way.

  11. Chris June 29, 2015 / 12:05

    I think you’ve misunderstood Alex’s query Simon.
    Anyway, you can now go straight on from Charlton Church Lane into Bugsby’s Way. To get to Sainsbury’s take the left at the roundabout and then left at the new lights before Asda into Gallion’s Road and Sainsbury’s is on the right.
    On leaving, you cannot go straight on up CC Lane. You have to go down to the roundabout by the other estate and back up the road to turn left into CC Lane.

    • Simon June 29, 2015 / 12:10

      You’re right, I didn’t read it properly. Sorry. I was fixating on my own attempts to get out of the place, which took a while!

  12. The Hebridean June 29, 2015 / 15:04

    Simon: My guess is that the LED display is linked with some form of recording registration numbers and time of entry, so that if you overstay it is easy to issue a penalty notice. Big Brother! I also noticed that the car park was nearly full but was told that it was the contractors working at M&S who were taking up all the spaces. So what’s all this codswallop from Greenwich Council about the requirement to submit a Travel plan as part of a planning application? Looks good I suppose but how can you force employees to use public transport? Dock their pay if they don’t come on the bus? As for getting the customer to pay for the building, well all major supermarkets are posting lower profits and Sainsbury’s is no different. They reduced their Nectar points from 2 per £1 to 1 back in April and are cutting back on double/triple points offers too. The name of the game is profit.

    • Alex June 29, 2015 / 15:52

      Thanks Chris… and Simon!

  13. MiceElf July 26, 2015 / 21:02

    Ghastly. And the photo of the pink and blue children’s clothes sums up the awfulness.

  14. MiceElf July 26, 2015 / 21:05

    Oh, and Sainsbury’s is owned by the Quataries. Another reason not to go there.

  15. Neil C July 26, 2015 / 21:21

    The new Sainsbury’s might be a bit of an eyesore and a poor use of land, but you can at least get your watch battery replaced in the Timpson’s concession inside – something I’ve been failing to do locally for months…

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