Sainsbury's Evicts Poppy Collectors For Photo Booth

Takings fall 'massively' as stall that has been in place for a decade is removed

Rupa Huq MP and Mary Macleod with cadets at the stall last year

Collectors from the Royal British Legion say they have seen a sharp fall in their takings this year after Sainsbury’s made them remove their stall from the front entrance of the Chiswick store.

For the last ten years the Poppy Appeal has been allowed to make collections in the entrance way of the supermarket just off Essex Place. The organiser of the local Poppy Appeal and chairman of Chiswick Royal British Legion Jim Adams said that, as he was concerned about the refurbishment work going on to convert the café into an Argos collection point, he had asked the floor manager at Sainsbury’s if there were any issues with the Poppy Appeal taking up their usual spot. He was told that it wouldn’t be a problem and that they could collect as normal up until 10 November.

Subsequently, this Wednesday (31 October) at around 1pm the collectors were asked to move their tables to allow for the delivery of a photo booth.

The floor manager from Sainsbury’s told them that they could still collect from the rear of the store where customers enter from the car park. He claimed that the footfall was higher at this location. Three of the collectors present at this point say the Sainsbury’s manager told them, “This is my store. You can go round the corner or leave.”

Mr Adams disputes that footfall is higher at the rear of the store and says having organised collections at the location for several years he knows well which are the best spots. Takings from the Chiswick Sainsbury’s alone for the Poppy Appeal are normally in the range of £8,000-9,000 but since the eviction of the group from the entrance area these have fallen by around 75% As many of the volunteers are elderly, the front entrance of the store offers them a warmer and more secure place to collect and many are unable to help out at the rear of the store. Numbers are being made up by cadets but these are generally only available at the weekends.

The photo booth now in the entrance of Sainsbury's
The photo booth now in the entrance of Sainsbury's

Mr Adams says he believes the decision is part of a broader change in attitude of Sainsbury’s management towards the Poppy Appeal. In previous years collection pots had been placed at all the tills but this year they have offered only to place them at the customer information point.

He called the floor manager and asked for an explanation about the decision to remove the collection stall but had not received a reply two days later.

Mr Adams added, “This is particularly disappointing in what is supposed to be a pretty special year for the appeal with the centenary of the Armistice. We now face a year in which takings will be massively down. I have gained the impression that Sainsbury’s just don’t want us on the site.”

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said, “We’re proud to continue our support for The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal this year and we’ve welcomed volunteers into our Chiswick superstore for many years.

“The store is currently being refurbished and has more limited space at the volunteers’ usual entrance. We have explained they can continue to collect in this area but if they would be more comfortable sitting down they can use the alternative space we have provided.”

A spokesperson for the head office of the Royal British Legion said, "The Legion is always grateful to shops, pubs and other commercial enterprises which allow poppies to be distributed and collections to be taken on their private property or inside their trading premises.

“Sainsbury's has been a much valued partner for the last 20 years, they stock a wide range of poppy products and even have poppy recycling facilities so that poppies can be used again next year.”

Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton who has helped out with the Poppy Appeal at this location in the past said, “The poppy collection supported by the local legion at Chiswick Sainsbury’s is a go-to location for all in the area. It seems that the closure coincides with the closure of the much-loved café. It’s too late I guess to revive the latter but on the former given its high footfall I hope Sainsbury's can think again on this. On the hundredth anniversary of the end of war that was meant to end all wars it’d be best for all if common sense prevails.”

November 3, 2018