Sainsbury’s Chooses Self-Supply Water Strategy

Last updated: 13th December 2021

Sainsbury’s has applied to water market regulator Ofwat for a self-supply licence: a move that aligns with the responsible retailer’s impressive sustainability values and supports its future goals.

When the UK’s water retail market opened in April 2017, Sainsbury’s initially took advantage of the competitive market and selected two water retailers to cover its English site portfolio. Now, Sainsbury’s believes that a self-supply licence will offer further opportunities for innovation in delivering its water strategies in the future and provide better insight and control of its data. The retailer considers that this will help inform its water targets, whilst also giving it a customer voice in the market and the ability to drive change.

If granted a licence, Sainsbury’s will be entitled to supply water services to all of its English sites, pay water wholesale prices (the price that retailers pay to wholesalers and therefore not pay the retailers’ margins), and become a market participant including membership of MOSL with voting rights. Sainsbury’s will also be involved in innovation within the water market and join other water-focused organisations like John Lewis that participate in the Self-Supply User Forum: a unique, rapidly growing peer group community which aims to advance best practice when it comes to water.

J Sainsbury plc is the holding company for over 1400 Sainsbury’s supermarkets and convenience stores, almost 900 Argos stores and the Sainsbury’s Bank, Tu, Habitat, Sainsbury’s Home and Nectar brands.

The leading multi-brand, multi-channel retailer has long focused on its sustainability agenda with strategies aligned to UN Sustainable Development Global Goals on the reduction of emissions, waste and water use. Impressively, Sainsbury’s has been achieving zero waste to landfill since 2013, saved over 20,000 tonnes of CO2 and reduced water consumption by an outstanding 1 billion litres since 2005/6. A colleague behavioural change project, ‘Greenest Grocer’, has been instrumental in achieving these results.

In implementing self-supply, Sainsbury’s has chosen to work with Waterscan as managing agents to assume responsibilities for retail functions such as meter readings, Central Market Operating System transactions and wholesaler management, and to identify water efficiency opportunities. This arrangement extends the long-standing partnership between Sainsbury’s and Waterscan which has previously led to the delivery of key targets including a 50% reduction in water consumption and several stores achieving ‘triple zero’ status.

Waterscan’s Managing Director, Neil Pendle, said: “We congratulate Sainsbury’s on taking the next proactive step on its already impressive water journey. I’m confident that a self-supply licence will enable the company to build on its leadership position in responsible retailing and accelerate progress towards its sustainability goals, including its recent commitment to become Net Zero by 2040.”

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