Sainsbury’s new On the Go concept store in London is playing “catch-up” with existing shops opened by independent retailers, according to industry experts.

The 2,200sq ft local shop opened in Mansion House in central London last week and caters to busy office workers with food to go, which can be taken away or eaten at tables placed at the front of the store. 

Nine more ‘On the Go’ stores are to be opened across city centre locations in Edinburgh, Bristol, Glasgow and London in the coming months. The multiple also said 130 of its 800 Local stores could be converted to the On the Go format. 

Retail expert Graham Soult told betterRetailing: “The store is quite spacious, which is often an issue many smaller convenience stores have.

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“However, its focus on food to go is nothing new and it’s an area that companies such as Nisa within the independent convenience market have already innovated in. 

“The likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco are playing catch-up with independent retailers. I’m also taking an element of caution with these concept stores because they tend to never be seen again after a period of time.”

Within the On the Go store, customers can purchase food such as pizza, pastries, sushi, porridge, coffee and orange juice. A grab-and-go station for hot food is also positioned near the entrance. The range in the station is changed three times a day for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

GlobalData associate analyst Thomas Brereton said: “Tesco has trialled similar grab-and-go stations in its stores previously, but it stopped them because they weren’t profitable. 

“Sainsbury’s has also picked 130 out of 800 Local sites for a potential conversion, which suggests they’ve thought about their target market carefully. I don’t think independent convenience stores will have to worry about competition at the moment. This is more a rival to café chains such as Pret a Manger.”

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Sainsbury’s will also use information from its Nectar loyalty scheme to determine what products to stock. CACI grocery retail location planning consultant Valentins Kirillovs added: “Our data shows 40% of those in the shop’s area are working there, while 50% pass through, so Sainsbury’s has got a good target market with its focus on food to go and healthy snacking. It has quite an affluent customer base.

“Customers in that kind of area don’t really think about going to a café chain or convenience store for lunch. The lines between those different formats are blurred and the On the Go is a combination of those businesses.” 

More on this story: Sainsbury’s launches ‘On the Go’ format