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J Sainsbury plc, trading as Sainsbury’s, is the second largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, with a 16.9% share of the supermarket sector in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1869, by John James Sainsbury with a shop in Drury Lane, London, the company became the largest grocery retailer in 1922, was an early adopter of self-service retailing in the United Kingdom, and had its heyday during the 1980s. In 1995, Tesco overtook Sainsbury’s to become the market leader, and Asda became the second largest in 2003, demoting Sainsbury’s to third place for most of the subsequent period until January 2014, when Sainsbury’s regained second place.
The holding company, J Sainsbury plc, is split into three divisions: Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd (including convenience stores), Sainsbury’s Bank and Sainsbury’s Argos. The group’s head office is in the Sainsbury’s Store Support Centre in Holborn Circus, City of London. The group also has interests in property.
As of May 2011, the largest Sainsbury family shareholders are Lord Sainsbury of Turville with 4.99%, with Judith Portrait the trustee of various Sainsbury settlements and charitable trusts holding 3.92%. The largest overall shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, the Qatar Investment Authority, who hold 25.999% of the company. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.