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About the Collection

The Sainsbury Archive documents the history of Sainsbury’s from its foundation in Drury Lane in 1869, but also provides a unique record of the transformation that has occurred in retailing since the mid-19th century, and the impact of these changes on society.

The core of the archive was formed at the time of the company’s centenary in 1969 and has steadily grown to more than 700 linear metres of shelving, including documents, objects (ranging from food preparation and testing equipment, to product packaging and staff uniforms), photographs and audiovisual material.

The collection includes a large number of photographs and artefacts, and is particularly strong in the areas of product packaging, advertising and retail stores. However, the archive also includes key company records such as reports and accounts and press releases, as well as material relating to all aspects of the business, including head office operations, food supply, production and distribution, subsidiary companies and staff records.

What we hold

The Archive is a rich resource for specialist and general research on a wide range of topics including:

  • business and retail history
  • shopping and eating habits
  • architecture and urban development
  • advertising, display, packaging and product design
  • local and family history.

The Sainsbury Archive is a historical collection which reflects the attitudes and perspectives of different times, in some instances this may include aspects we now recognise as offensive or demeaning. Whilst the Sainsbury Archive has retained this content as part of a complete record, since altering it would compromise the Archive’s historical integrity and context, The Sainsbury Archive and J Sainsbury Plc do not endorse any offensive or discriminatory views that are explicitly or implicitly expressed within these historic materials

We made every attempt to identify records with these views, however if you do come across any items where the catalogue description doesn’t reflect this information please do get in touch with us.

About the Archive

In 2003 the Sainsbury Archive was set up as an independent charity and in 2005 relocated to the Museum of London Docklands in Canary Wharf. The object of The Sainsbury Archive is to advance education for the public benefit by collecting, maintaining and displaying items and documents relating to the history of Sainsbury's and the family of John James Sainsbury.

The Sainsbury Archive Trustees are:

Tim Fallowfield (Chair)

Mark Given

David Hay

Fran Perrin

Mark Sainsbury

Alex Sainsbury

For any questions regarding the Sainsbury Archive please get in contact with the team, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

We welcome visitors to the archive to consult original material held in the collection. If you would like more information about this please see our how to visit page. 

You can find out more about research priorities, research guides and using the catalogue here.

Contact Us

The Sainsbury Archive
Museum of London Docklands
No. 1 Warehouse
West India Quay
London E14 4AL

tel: 020 7001 9852
Instagram: sainsburyarchive
Threads: sainsburyarchive
Youtube: @SainsburyArchive

The Sainsbury Archive was formed as a company limited by guarantee on 8 November 2002. The company registration number is 4585197. The company was registered with the Charity Commission on 11 March 2003. The charity registration number is 1096454.
Registered Office: 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT.