Retail group J Sainsbury is to review its public affairs account,
currently held by GJW Government Relations.
GJW has worked for J Sainsbury for five years, and this is the first
time that the account has been reviewed. ’We have become comfortable,
and for the sake of our own self discipline we agreed that it was right
to review (the account) and the best way to review it is to go to a
comparison,’ said the company’s group public affairs director, Roger
Saoul said GJW would be invited to pitch. But it is understood that
other lobbying firms have already expressed an interest in pitching for
the J Sainsbury work. However other large lobbying firms which already
have links with rival supermarket chains are unlikely to pitch.
Westminster Strategy, for example, represents Safeway. GPC Market Access
in London represents Marks and Spencer and does some work for Asda. Lowe
Bell breakaway agency Lawson Lucas Mendelsohn recently won Tesco’s
lobbying account from Lowe Bell Political.
J Sainsbury appointed GPC Market Access Europe this summer to monitor
policy, particularly on consumer protection, emanating from the European
Commission and other European institutions. J Sainsbury wants greater
input into the formulation of European legislation.
The UK lobbying agency is likely to handle issues including food safety
and planning applications. In July the Government approved guidance to
local authorities, devised under the Conservatives, to encourage
developers to build new sites in town centres. Developers now have to
demonstrate that there are adequate public transport facilities when
building out of town.
J Sainsbury will also need to monitor legislation on individual savings
accounts, which the Government announced would be operated with help
from supermarkets. J Sainsbury has recently come under fire for
donations to the Labour Party, with critics questioning whether this may
have influenced local planning application decisions.