Sainsbury's to cull marketing in back-to-basics strategy

Sainsbury's is to cut at least 70 marketing jobs from its 300-strong team as part of a cull intended to reduce overheads and fund 3,000 new shop-floor staff.

The "Getting the basics right" strategy, announced by chief executive Justin King today, will also see the troubled supermarket allocate less store space to general merchandise than was previously planned.

It is a major U-turn for Sainsbury's, which a year ago heralded general merchandise as key to attracting customers. At the time, it said that a strong complementary non-food range was essential to its "First for food" internal mission statement. It allocated 10.5% of its total sales area to the category.

Sainsbury's is planning total savings of £400m by 2008, to be achieved by costing cutting including a £40m reduction in marketing costs.

King said: "We are clear on the actions we need to take. We have strengthened our management team and already put in place a number of actions to restore the effective delivery of our customer offer. A longer-term programme is now being implemented to fix operational basics and radically improve our ability to deliver our offer on a consistent and sustainable basis."

Although general merchandise has not been dropped as had been rumoured, the store will focus on homeware above electronics and clothing, a different strategy from rival Tesco.

Sainsbury's may expand its Taste the Difference premium range, and extensions into areas such as wine are being discussed as part of a renewed focus on quality.

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