Sainsbury’s wants to have an Argos in every supermarket
The UK’s second-largest supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has said it wants to place an Argos into every store.
Earlier this year the company bought Home Retail, owners of Argos and Habitat, for £1.4 billion. This has increased the Sainsbury’s portfolio to 601 supermarkets, 782 convenience stores and 739 Argos outlets, along with five Habitat stores.
By Christmas there will be around 30 Argos digital stores inside Sainsbury’s supermarkets along with three Habitat concessions.
CEO Mike Coupe said: “Over time we'd envisage that there won't be a single Sainsbury's -- with the exception of some very small convenience shops -- where you won't either be able to see an Argos concession or be able to 'click & collect' items within four hours."
Argos digital stores within Sainsbury’s supermarkets gives customers access to over 90,000 products under one roof, as the combination of Sainsbury’s and Argos creates one of the UK’s leading food and non-food retailers.
The Argos digital stores will offer customers a choice to either buy instantly in-store via tablets, or to reserve online for easy same-day collection. The Argos digital stores in Sainsbury’s will range in size from around 1,000 to over 5,000 square feet.
Sainsbury’s will also introduce five Mini Habitat concessions within Sainsbury’s stores over the coming months. These concessions, which will range from 1,400 to 2,000 square feet in size, will sit alongside and complement Sainsbury’s own homeware and cookware ranges. Mini Habitat stores will include over 600 products – all designed in-house by the Habitat design team in London - with a range of price points across furniture, upholstery, lighting, homewares and textiles.
Coupe commented: “This is the start of an exciting new phase for Sainsbury’s, Argos and Habitat. I am delighted to be able to quickly capitalise on the benefits of our combined group by opening more Argos digital concessions in our stores and introducing the Mini Habitat format to our customers. Being able to shop across all three brands under one roof will make our customers’ lives even more convenient and offer them incredible choice.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”