David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville

David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville
The Right Honourable
The Lord Sainsbury of Turville

David Sainsbury, Progressive Governance Conference 2009 in Chile
Born David John Sainsbury
24 October 1940 (1940-10-24) (age 71)
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Columbia Business School
Known for businessman, politician and peer
Net worth £1.3 billion [1]
Title Fellow of the Royal Society
Political party Labour Party
Parents Robert Sainsbury
Relatives Alan Sainsbury (uncle)

David John Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville, FRS (born 24 October 1940), is a British businessman and politician. From 1992 to 1997, he served as the Chairman of Sainsbury's (a supermarket chain established by his great-grandfather John James Sainsbury in 1869). He was made a life peer in 1997, and currently sits in the House of Lords as a member of the Labour Party. He served in the government as the Minister for Science and Innovation from 1998 and 2006.

On 16 October 2011, he was elected the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.[2]


Early and private life

He is the son of Sir Robert Sainsbury and Lisa Sainsbury. His elder sister was Elizabeth (Elizabeth Clark 19 Jul 1938 – 14 Aug 1977) and his younger sisters are Celia and Annabel. He is the nephew of Lord Sainsbury. His cousins are the Conservative peer Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, Simon Sainsbury, and former Tory MP Sir Tim Sainsbury. His great-grandparents, John James Sainsbury and Mary Ann Staples, established a grocer's at 173 Drury Lane in 1869 which became the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's.

He attended Eton College before going on to the University of Cambridge, where he earned a degree in History & Psychology at King's College. He then completed an MBA at Columbia Business School in the United States.

He and his wife Susie (a former teacher) have three daughters, one of whom is Clare Sainsbury, who wrote 'Martian in the Playground' to help people understand Asperger's syndrome.

He lives in the Manor of Turville in Turville, Buckinghamshire. The Manor once belonged to the abbey at St Albans, but was seized by the Crown in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1547. The manor house has since been rebuilt as Turville Park, a fine stately home in the village.

He was made a life peer as Baron Sainsbury of Turville in the County of Buckinghamshire in 1997, following the Labour Party's election victory.

On 10 September 2007, he was awarded an honorary degree in science by University College London and in 2008 he was awarded an honorary degree in science by the University of Bath.

Business career

David Sainsbury joined the family firm, then known as 'J. Sainsbury Ltd.', in 1963, working in the personnel department. He became a director in 1966. He was Financial Controller from 1971 to 1973, just before the Company's floatation.

When the company listed on the London Stock Exchange on 12 July 1973, which was at the time the largest floatation ever, his family at the time retained control with an 85% stake. His father Sir Robert Sainsbury gave almost his entire stake in the company to David Sainsbury, his only son, whereas his uncle Alan Sainsbury split his stake in the business between his sons John Davan Sainsbury, Simon Sainsbury and Tim Sainsbury. John Davan Sainsbury became Chairman in 1969 on Sir Robert Sainsbury's retirement.

He was the group's Finance Director from 1973 to 1990, during which time the Company grew rapidly. He was Chairman of Savacentre from 1984 to 1993, during which time the hypermarkets business grew slowly. He was Deputy Chairman from 1988 to 1992. On JD Sainsbury's retirement as Chairman and Chief Executive on 2 November 1992, David Sainsbury became Chairman.

In 1996, Sainsbury's announced its first drop in profits in 22 years, and the first of three profits warnings during David's chairmanship was issued. Although there were senior management changes, which included David relinquishing the Chief Executive's role to Dino Adriano and becoming Non-Executive Chairman, there were no new directors or outsiders appointed to the senior management team. Profits fell the next year, but rose in 1998. At this point, David Sainsbury, who had wanted to step down at the end of 1997, made a surprise announcement of his retirement as Chairman to pursue his long-held ambition to have a career in politics, after "32 enjoyable and fulfilling years" working for Sainsbury's. Sainsbury's share price increased on the day of this announcement.

On his retirement as Chairman, to avoid any conflict of interest, David Sainsbury placed his then 23% stake in Sainsbury's into a "blind" trust, to be administered by lawyer Judith Portrait. When David Sainsbury announced his intention to give away £1billion to charity in 2005, his 23% stake got sold down, eventually to 12.9% by early 2007. His beneficial holding became just 7.75% when he re-gained control of his shares in February 2007 following his decision to step down as Science and Innovation Minister in November 2006. During the private equity takeover bid in the first half of 2007, David indicated he was willing to let the Sainsbury's board open its books for due diligence if someone offered him a price of 600 pence per share or more.

As of August 2009, David Sainsbury retains a sizeable shareholding in his family's Sainsbury's supermarket chain (around 5.85%[3]). To further his philanthropy interests, he placed 92million of his shares (representing 5.28% of the Company's share capital), into his investment vehicle, Innotech Advisers Ltd (which donates all its dividends to charity), meaning his beneficial stake is just 0.57% (lower than JD's 1.6% beneficial interest). The Sainsbury family as a whole control approximately 15% of Sainsbury's. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2008 his family fortune was estimated at £1.3 billion.

Political career

Early politics - Labour, SDP, Continuing SDP, then Labour again

David Sainsbury joined the Labour Party in the 1960s, but was one of the 100 signatories of the 'Limehouse Declaration' in an advertisement in The Guardian on 5 February 1981;[4] he went on to be a member of the Social Democratic Party formed by the authors of the Declaration. After the 1983 election Sainsbury prompted the party to give more priority to recruiting members and finding a firm financial base; he was by far the biggest donor to the party, giving about £750,000 between 1981 and 1987. Sainsbury's donations were typically earmarked to specific projects rather than general day-to-day operations.[5]

Along with David Owen, Sainsbury opposed merging the SDP with the Liberal Party after the 1987 election, and provided office space for Owen to help him re-establish a separate political party, the "continuing" SDP, which was created in 1988.[6]

That party was wound up in 1990, and Sainsbury subsequently changed allegiance back to the Labour Party, rejoining them in 1996. A year later, he entered the House of Lords as a Labour peer.

Labour party donor, 1996-2008

Between 1996 (the year he rejoined Labour) and 2006 (when he stood down as a government minister), Sainsbury donated £16 million pounds to the Labour Party, usually in batches of £1 million or £2 million each year.[7] Since then, he has donated a further £2 million on 7 September 2007 (cancelling out a previous £2 million loan into a donation), stating that he was impressed by Gordon Brown's leadership, and donated the money as he believed "that Labour is the only party which is committed to delivering both social justice and economic prosperity".[8] He gave an extra £500,000 on 15 December 2008, towards Labour's campaigns,[9] making a total of £18.5 million. This makes him by a wide margin the largest donor in the history of the Labour Party.

It was reported that in April 2006, Sainsbury, "faced a possible probe into an alleged breach of the ministerial code after admitting he had failed to disclose a £2 million loan he had made to the Labour Party - despite publicly stating that he had." He subsequently apologised for "unintentionally" misleading the public, blaming a mix-up between the £2 million loan and a £2 million donation he had made earlier.[10][11][12]

In July 2006, he became the first government minister to be questioned by police in the "Cash for Peerages" inquiry.[10][13] On 10 November 2006, he resigned as Science Minister stating that he wanted to focus on business and charity work.[14] He categorically denied that his resignation had anything to do with the "Cash for Peerages" affair, stating that he was "not directly involved in whether peerages were offered for cash",[15] although this was contradicted by subsequent press reports attributed to "Labour insiders", which suggested that that his resignation was indeed a direct consequence of the affair.[16]

Minister for Science, 1998-2006

From July 1998 to November 2006, he held the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, as the Minister for Science and Innovation in the House of Lords, a government position for which he accepted no salary.

He was the Blair government's third-longest-serving minister after Tony Blair himself, and Gordon Brown.[10] Because of his importance to the Labour Party as a donor, contemporary press reports described him as "unsackable."[17] He has argued that there are "far too many reshuffles", and that there were considerable benefits to his remaining in post for so long.[18]

Other political initiatives

David Sainsbury has also been associated with the Institute for Public Policy Research and Progress. In 2009 he created the Institute for Government with £15 million of funding, through the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, to help government and opposition politicians to prepare for political transitions and government.[19][20]

Charitable works

David Sainsbury is a noted philanthropist and founded the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in 1967.[21][22] In 1993 he donated £200m of Sainsbury's shares to the Foundation's assets.[23] By 2009 the foundation had given £660m to a range of charitable causes.[24] In 2009 he allocated a further £465 million to the foundation, this will make him the first Briton to donate more than £1 billion to charity.[24]

He set up the Sainsbury Management Fellowship scheme in 1987 to develop UK engineers into leaders in industry.

He was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Society in May 2008.[25]

Sainsbury has donated £127 million of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation's money to Cambridge University in the last decade: he gave £45 million to Cambridge University's Botanical Gardens in August 2005.[26] In April 2011, Cambridge's new Sainsbury Laboratory was opened, named after Lord Sainsbury, and paid for by an £82 million donation from the Gatsby Foundation made in November 2008. It was hailed by the Financial Times as "one of the biggest donations ever made to a British university...surpassed only by a 2000 gift to the university by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."[27]

On 20 May 2011, Lord Sainsbury was formally proposed by the Nominations Board of Cambridge University to succeed the Duke of Edinbugh as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.[28] If his election had not been contested by 17 June, he would have assumed office on 1 July.[29] However, his nomination became the first in 163 years to be contested by another candidate. On 29 May his nomination was contested by local shopkeeper Abdul Arain, who was standing against Sainsbury in protest against a planning application for a Sainsbury's Local branch in Cambridge's Mill Road district, triggering a contest that would have to wait until an October ballot.[30] Four days later, a group of Cambridge University alumni successfully drafted actor Brian Blessed as an alternative candidate.[31][32] On 20 June, radical socialist barrister Michael Mansfield became the third candidate to oppose Sainsbury. An election between the four candidates took place on 14 and 15 October 2011.[33]Although the October election turnout was very low (2.5% of eligible to vote taking part), Lord Sainsbury won the election with 52% of the votes (2893 votes out of 5558) and was confirmed to the position on 16 October 2011[34].

See also

  • List of billionaires


  1. ^ "Lord Sainsbury and family". Sunday Times Rich List 2008. London: The Sunday Times. 27 April 2008. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/specials/rich_list/article3797174.ece. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  2. ^ http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/3859
  3. ^ J Sainsbury plc major shareholders
  4. ^ Ivor Crewe, Anthony King, "SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party", Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 94.
  5. ^ Ivor Crewe, Anthony King, "SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party", Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 249, 251.
  6. ^ Ivor Crewe, Anthony King, "SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party", Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 422.
  7. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cash-for-honours-what-am-i-bid-16310000-1631m-a-loan-no-questions-asked-469601.html
  8. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6983228.stm
  9. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1094981/Billionaire-Lord-Sainsbury-hands-Labour-500-000-general-election-boost.html
  10. ^ a b c http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-395621/Government-ministers-quizzed-cash-honours-probe.html
  11. ^ http://news.ft.com/cms/s/9b260140-c2ae-11da-ac03-0000779e2340.html
  12. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/apr/19/partyfunding.uk
  13. ^ Ministers quizzed in donor probe. BBC News (14 July 2006) (accessed 19 January 2009)
  14. ^ BBC News
  15. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-415740/Lord-Sainsbury-insists-cash-honours-resignation.html
  16. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1533851/Sainsbury-quits-in-anger-at-loans-affair.html
  17. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/millionaires-money-and-the-corruption-of-british-politics-593089.html
  18. ^ http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5193743/sainsbury-sets-out-a-different-way-of-operating.thtml
  19. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6718065.ece
  20. ^ http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/content/45/objectives-and-strategy
  21. ^ "Homepage". The Gatsby Charitable Foundation. http://www.gatsby.org.uk/. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  22. ^ Cookson, Clive. "The billion-pound philanthropist". The Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/68459582-d109-11db-836a-000b5df10621.html#axzz1Qg4UvrSy. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  23. ^ BBC News: Profile: Lord Sainsbury.
  24. ^ a b Butterworth, Myra (19 April 2009). "Lord Sainsbury becomes first Briton to donate more than £1 billion to charity". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5183227/Lord-Sainsbury-becomes-first-Briton-to-donate-more-than-1-billion-to-charity.html. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  25. ^ New Fellows 2008
  26. ^ http://www.plantsci.org.uk/news/queen-opens-new-plant-science-laboratory-cambridge-0
  27. ^ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ddd76e02-b5c7-11dd-ab71-0000779fd18c.html
  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2011051901
  30. ^ http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/3625
  31. ^ http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Brian-is-blessed-with-50-backers-02062011.htm
  32. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-13640487
  33. ^ http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/chancellorship/
  34. ^ http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/3859

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
2011 – present

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