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'JS Journal'

An introduction to 'JS Journal'

Digitized copies of ‘JS Journal’ (the title came from the company’s formal name for many years, ‘J Sainsbury’) are easy to stumble across when exploring the Sainsbury Archive catalogue – unlike other items in our collection, the text of each issue is fully searchable. But exactly what ‘JS Journal’ is might be unclear to many, especially those who have never worked for Sainsbury’s. This article will briefly explain the history of the magazine, what it includes, and the most effective way to search through it.


The history of ‘JS Journal’

For over 70 years Sainsbury’s published a magazine for its staff to read. ‘JS Journal’ first appeared in 1946, when the company was emerging from the turmoil of the Second World War. It aimed to assist in bringing ‘mutual understanding’ between head office and branch staff, publicise Staff Association activities, and ‘provide intelligent and entertaining reading… of general interest to everybody.’


Staff working on ‘JS Journal’ at this time had other work to do as well, so publication of further issues was initially sporadic. External factors such as paper shortages also had an impact. But the magazine soon gathered momentum, and by the mid-1950s new issues were appearing almost every month. Examples of the many milestones that ‘JS Journal’ covered in detail are the opening of the first self-service Sainsbury’s shop, the arrival (by crane!) of the company’s first computer, and Britain’s first shop using decimal currency.


In 1973 a ‘new-style’ ‘JS Journal’ was introduced. It aimed to present ‘a balanced view of the many aspects of life in Sainsbury's’ and ‘a forum in which opinions and viewpoints can be freely expressed.’ Staff news and social events would still feature, but alongside more in-depth reporting on company policy and new developments. To achieve this Sainsbury’s devoted greater resources to the magazine, appointing professional journalists to work on it full time and increasing the dimensions of each issue, from pocket-sized to something closer to a tabloid newspaper.


‘JS Journal’ continued in a similar vein for the next few decades. Technology may have advanced – by 2006 staff were encouraged to get in touch by text message as well as post or telephone – but the magazine remained ‘a key way of telling each other about what's going on around the business.’ One thing that did change was the title, becoming ‘the journal’ in 1999, ‘Sainsbury’s Journal’ five years later, and simply ‘Journal’ in 2013.


The last issue of the ‘Journal’ was published in June 2020 amidst severe disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 Sainsbury’s took the difficult decision to bring an end to the magazine, as information could be disseminated across the company more frequently through online channels.


The contents of ‘JS Journal’

Unsurprisingly, given its long run, the types of articles which appeared in ‘JS Journal’ varied widely over the years. It is however possible to list several common areas covered in many issues:

  • News and developments inside and outside the company which impacted its operations

  • Openings of new Sainsbury’s, Homebase and Savacentre branches, usually with photographs of the store and some of its staff

  • In-depth reports and features on many topics connected with Sainsbury’s, ranging from foreign trips made by staff to how certain products were made, along with special coverage of matters such as annual financial results

  • Brief stories from individual stores and staff members, such as visits from VIPs, charitable fundraising and community engagement

  • Feedback from staff about the company and replies from relevant departments

  • Lists of staff promotions and internal transfers, long service milestones, retirements, and obituaries

  • Details of new own brand products

  • Stories from Sainsbury’s history, written by its archivists

  • Competitions and puzzles


How to search ‘JS Journal’

From this summary it is hopefully clear that ‘JS Journal’ is a valuable resource for a range of research types, from academic study to family history. Although the magazine can be found through a general search of the Sainsbury Archive catalogue, it is worth noting that our website also allows a more focused way of searching it. This may be particularly useful when lots of results are returned, and can be found by clicking the drop-down box marked ‘Everywhere’ on the left side of the ‘Catalogue’ page and selecting ‘Journal article’.



Limiting search results only to ‘JS Journal’ shows the title of all relevant articles and one or two content categories. Switching to the ‘List’ view, using the button on the right side of the search results page, will show the first few lines of each article as well.



A few other things to bear in mind:

  • Articles in ‘JS Journal’ reflect the attitudes and perspectives of the time they were published, and 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.

  • The most recent issues of the ‘Journal’ (from September 2015 onwards) are not currently available to view on our website. We hope to put them all online soon.

  • When searching for individual people, remember that earlier issues of the magazine often abbreviated their first name(s) to just the initials. Searching simply for surnames will ensure the most comprehensive results.

  • It is possible to browse all years of ‘JS Journal’, rather than use search terms, by starting from this page. Clicking on a year will show all the issues published, and selecting an issue brings up a table of its contents. Click on the ‘View (PDF)’ button next to an article to see the correct page in a PDF file:


  • Many double page spreads have been digitized as a single image showing both pages for ease of reading. These can be found by scrolling down to the end of the relevant PDF file.

  • As well as ‘JS Journal’, the Sainsbury Archive has digitized various other publications which intended to improve communication across Sainsbury’s and its subsidiaries. These include the Sainsbury’s Staff Association (SSA) newsletter, ‘Office Talk’, ‘Development Matters’, depot newsletters, and ‘Savacentre news’. Unfortunately the text of these other publications is not searchable in the same way as ‘JS Journal’.


If you have memories of working on or appearing in ‘JS Journal’, please feel free to record them on our Memories page.