Sainsbury’s rolls out Dragons’ Den-style contest

Sainsbury’s general counsel Nick Grant has ­challenged the firms on his legal panel to compete against each other in a ­Dragons’ Den-style contest.

The event, dubbed ‘Directors’ Den’, saw the panel firms introduce their other clients to Grant so they could pitch a new product or service with the ultimate aim of seeing it sold on the supermarket’s shelves.

Later this week a successful shortlist of five companies will go before a group of Sainsbury’s directors, who will choose one winner.

In total, Sainsbury’s reviewed 16 pitches, which Grant said varied massively.

“Given a challenge it’s interesting to see how firms interpret it – they run it through their own culture and own client base, and the manifestation is pretty ­different,” he added.

Ideas included a fizzy drink called Carbonaid, which would put a portion of profits into carbon reduction schemes, a business selling designer chairs, an IT company and an entrepreneurial school.

Grant said that the Directors’ Den initiative, which he intends to run annually, is more than just a distraction from the serious business of solving legal issues.

“[The question is] how does our legal community add to Sainsbury’s?” he said. “Community is about the flow of ideas, not just me sucking value out of a firm then dispensing with it. Firms will hopefully be proud of [having referred] clients in these hard times.”

Grant’s panel is made up of 11 firms including Addleshaw Goddard, CMS Cameron McKenna, Denton Wilde Sapte and Linklaters.