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Sainsbury's sticks with big names for £900m spree

Supermarket operator J Sainsbury has appointed a string of major architects as part of a new £900 million capital expenditure programme, shrugging off fears that a 23 per cent fall in profit would mean an end to its policy of appointing big-name practices.

Terry Farrell & Partners has been appointed to design a store extension at Harlow in Middlesex while Lifschutz Davidson has been picked for supermarkets in Richmond and Canning Town and a speculative office development.

But the biggest winner is Chetwood Associates, which designed Sainsbury's environmentally innovative Greenwich peninsular store and has now been chosen to design about six new buildings, mostly in town centres.

'There is a great opportunity for Sainsbury's to act as a catalyst and bring town centres back to life again, 'Chetwood partner Laurie Chetwood said.

On top of the store developments, main board director Ian Coull confirmed that Foster and Partners is working on designing Sainsbury's new corporate headquarters on the site of its existing building at Blackfriars in London. The current building will be demolished under the plan.

'Our policy on using quality architects hasn't changed, ' Coull said. 'We work with a panel but are flexible enough to allow other practices to bring their ideas to us.'

In particular, he praised panellist Lifschutz Davidson, and said: 'We like Lifschutz, they are a good young practice.'

Absentees from the latest round of appointments but still on Sainsbury's panel of practices are Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners and Jeremy Dixon. Edward Jones.

Coull warned that standards for lower-profile practices would be very high and he said they must 'continue performing with good designs to stay working with Sainsbury's'. Smaller practices on its list include Pick Everard.

The appointments are part of Sainsbury's 2000-2001 building programme which will see the majority of the £900 million spent on new building and refurbishment projects, including 13 new superstores and 25 smaller local stores.

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