The 140-year-old grocery chain is bouncing back after losing its supermarket leadership laurels to Tesco in the 1990s. Sainsbury's ceded its premier position in the 1990s when it struggled to respond to its old rival's lower prices, loyalty schemes, move into non-groceries and larger-format stores.

Early in this decade, the group's Business Transformation Programme made massive changes to stores, IT, distribution and other infrastructure. Since 2004, under incoming CEO Justin King, Sainsbury's has focused on a new change programme, Making Sainsbury's Great Again, which included objectives such as improving the firm's IT systems for example in restocking shelves and in the distribution system.

Now recovering nicely and outpacing key rivals in growth, Sainsbury's plans for 2009 included the integration of stores acquired from the Co-op/Somerfield.

Today, Sainsbury's operates over 500 supermarkets and over 270 convenience stores and has been restored to impressive profitability.

Online food sales are growing at 20 per cent and the company launched a new non-food online effort in the course of the year. Part of the improvement can be put down to IT with innovations including duplex receipt printing and self-service checkouts. The group is also aiming to improve its supply-chain management via an outsourcing agreement with IBM.

However, Sainsbury's did suffer one digitally-related embarrassment in 2009: pornography was discovered on a laptop for sale at a store. Sainsbury's said that images had probably been sent to the device via Bluetooth.

Sainsbury's has implemented the Spectrum Infrastructure Management solution from IT management software company CA to support its online shopping supply chain operations.

The new software is intended to quickly notify Sainsbury's of any system issues so that problems in online ordering can be resolved promptly.

The Spectrum monitors the supermarket's network of existing applications and hardware modules, including over 200 devices in its demilitarised zone (DMZ) network and around 2,000 devices in its stores, depots and business centres.

Sainsbury's already uses CA's system management software NSM solutions, which consolidates alerts from multiple element managers and directs them to the incident management process.