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Sainsbury's trials food deliveries on the Thames

Sainsbury's and the Port of London Authority have worked together to trial delivering food to Sainsbury's stores in London by River.

The journey would mean that once food is despatched by Sainsbury's distribution centre in South East London, the day's delivery for the store would be shipped on the Thames by barge, rather than by road, arriving in close proximity to the west London store. If rolled out to stores in the same area, this could save 350,000 road kilometres every year.

Roger Burnley, supply chain director, Sainsbury's, said:

"The trial, in conjunction with the Port of London Authority was a success, and proved there are alternatives for us to be more efficient as a business, environmentally sustainable, and cause less congestion on busy London roads. But it's interesting that one of the ways we could do this is by revisiting how we operated when we set up shop almost 140 years ago. It's in our heritage to manage and reduce our environmental impact, and using the Thames is an extremely efficient way of doing this."

Port of London Authority chief executive, Richard Everitt, said:

"In recent years, the Thames has been used to move heavy, bulk goods like building materials. Sainsbury's trial was a first, as it tested the potential of the upper river for moving time-sensitive goods. As water freight doesn't face traffic build up, the trial actually showed that freight moves faster on the river than on central London's roads. You also get free energy when you use the river as the tide helps propel the vessel."

The trial, which took place in February, convinced Sainsbury's that the movement of goods on the river Thames between distribution centre and stores, is a viable option provided the commercial riverside operations can be established. Sainsbury's is committed to working with partners to encourage the development of the wharf infrastructure further.


Port of London Authority - Martin Garside, 01474 562366
Sainsbury's - Hannah Chance, 020 7695 7295 or Parveen Johal, 020 7695 6057