The fourth generation
Born in 1927, John Davan Sainsbury is the eldest son of Alan Sainsbury, grandson of John Benjamin and the great-grandson of John James. He joined Sainsbury’s grocery department in 1950, after national service and university, and became biscuit buyer in 1951.
Working under his father, ‘Mr JD’ as he became known within Sainsbury’s was also responsible for many other aspects of the business. As a bacon buyer from 1956, he developed and piloted the production of sweetcure bacon at the abattoir at Haverhill which led to the formation of Haverhill Meat Products. He was also heavily involved in the development of Sainsbury’s own range of products, personally approving every packaging design.
He was knighted in 1980 for his services to the food industry, and with his brothers Simon and Timothy helped transform Sainsbury’s. He was made a director in 1958, Deputy Chairman on his father's retirement in 1967, Chairman and then Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s in 1969. In 1979 he was appointed marketing advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, Peter Walker.
John Davan’s time at Sainsbury’s saw the company grow from a regional, middle-sized grocery chain, to a national household name. In 1991 former managing director Sir Roy Griffiths said of him, ‘No senior member of a family ever cherished the family traditions more closely. No Roman ever guarded the household gods more zealously and no chairman has ever looked after the corporate values so committedly, and nothing has been too much, no generosity too great for people who serve the customer, and by definition the company well.’ He was created Baron Sainsbury of Preston Candover in 1989, and became a Knight of the Garter and Life President of Sainsbury's in 1992.
Simon Sainsbury was Alan’s second son and brother of John Davan. He began working for the company in 1956 and was appointed Director of Financial Policy and Personnel in 1959. He became Deputy Chairman on his uncle Robert Sainsbury's retirement in 1969. Simon continued to oversee financial, personnel and administrative aspects of the business until his retirement in 1979.
Timothy Sainsbury, the third son of Alan, joined his brothers at Sainsbury’s in 1956. In 1959 he became deputy to Fred Salisbury (the first non-Sainsbury director of the company). He was appointed Director of Estates, Architects and Engineers in 1962. Within this role, he accomplished the important task of converting all the remaining counter service shops to self-service, and modernising the earlier self-service shops. Timothy Sainsbury held various government posts between 1983 and 1994 and was knighted in 1995, when he returned to Sainsbury’s as a non-executive Director.
David Sainsbury is the son of Robert Sainsbury, grandson of John Benjamin and great-grandson of John James. He joined the company in 1963 and played a major part in managing Sainsbury’s financial operations. In 1971 he was made a director and Financial Controller, and then in 1973 became Finance Director. David became Deputy Chairman in 1988 and Chairman in 1992. His retirement from Sainsbury’s in 1998 concluded 129 years of management by the Sainsbury family. David Sainsbury was created Baron Sainsbury of Turville in 1997.