Sir Robert Sainsbury died in 2000 aged 93. "Robert Sainsbury was educated at Haileybury College (which he didn't enjoy) and Cambridge (which he did), before qualifying as an accountant. Eight years after he joined the family firm, his father, John, retired due to ill-health, and Robert and his elder brother became joint general managers. While Alan took charge of trading matters, Robert specialised in administration, finance and personnel. It was a happy partnership, lasting more than 30 years.... Robert and Alan were strong supporters of the Beveridge report, which cradled the welfare state into being. By the end of the war, Robert had cut the long hours which under-18s had necessarily put in - with men conscripted and women on war work - anticipating that the Labour government would want youngsters to complete their education....
"The 1950s brought further challenge and change with the rise of supermarkets. The Sainsburys realised that the new new world of aisles, checkouts - and big profits, of course - would be expensive to bring to a family undertaking. Robert presided over much of this transformation. Over the period of his joint general management, deputy chairmanship and chairmanship (he became deputy chairman when his father died in 1956, and succeeded his brother as chairman in 1967), the company's turnover increased from £45m to £166m, and the number of employees rose fourfold.
By the time he quit as chairman in 1969, Sainsbury could bask, albeit quietly, in the knowledge that he had been a principal architect of the supergrocer's fortunes, which would see it sail towards the end of the century. What awaited Robert was the culmination of his secondary career as a collector and benefactor. In 1973, he made a gift to the University of East Anglia of several hundred paintings, drawings and sculptures from around the world, which he had bought over the decades. Designed by Norman Foster, a talented British architect who, up to then, had enjoyed more success with commissions on the continent than in Britain, and with an endowment of £3m from his son, David, to house the works, the awe-inspiring Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts opened in spring 1978... Sir Robert and his wife, Lisa, who survives him, along with their two daughters, Celia and Annabel, and son, David, was also an early patron and friend of Francis Bacon. They bought the first of nine paintings by Bacon in 1953; later, Lady Sainsbury asked the artist to do a portrait of her husband. To those who said - unsurprisingly - that Bacon had hardly produced a likeness, Sainsbury replied: "It's not the business of portraits to look like people, but to be exciting arrangements of form and colour." 
His son is David Sainsbury .
Resources and articles
- guardian.co.uk Robert Sainsbury, organizational web page, accessed June 29, 2012.