Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King issued a property battle plan to almost 3,000 delegates at the BCSC annual conference in Manchester today

Promising bold expansion plans, quick decisions and an active asset management programme, King also reflected that Sainsbury’s had been `off its game’ for too long in retail property.

It did not open a new store between April 2004, in Seldson near Croydon and Cheltenham this autumn, a situation King never wants to see repeated again. It now wants to grow by 5% or 750,000 sq ft a year.

Under property chief Peter Baguley Sainsbury’s is now shaking up its property activities, and King revealed that so far it has plans for 14 new supermarkets and 50 convenience stores for 2007-08.

It has also spent £725m since September 2004 on refurbishment, with King revealing that before this some stores had barely been improved since the 1960s or 1970s.

King also stressed Sainsbury’s socially responsible credentials, claiming many retailers and councils saw it as their `partner of choice’.

He said that while financial negotiations still took precedence in talks with councils `environment and integrity’ were also uppermost in their minds, citing a recent application in Penrith.