Sainsburys Easter Partnership with Grubworkz

By ‘Working Together Magazine, Sainsburys

Smaller producers and suppliers bring fresh energy and ideas to our business. In the first of a new series of articles to feature in each issue of Working Together, we take a closer look at the history, stories and passion behind our smaller suppliers. This time, we’re focusing on artisan supplier Grubworkz. We’ve been working with them, and suppliers Randall Parker, to bring a unique lamb product to customers’ tables – just in time for Easter.
Meet Steven Poole. He’s the owner of a small, but growing, artisan food company called Grubworkz in Somerset. In Steven’s own words, his company is “microscopic”, yet along with the team, managed by his son and business partner, Tom Poole, he’s supplied Sainsbury’s with more than 6,000 lamb shoulder products – beautifully bound and carefully cooked sous vide – just in time for Easter. “It was the most challenging, yet rewarding, thing I’ve ever done,” said Steven.His company may be just 22 months old, but Steven is no stranger to product development. Before launching Grubworkz, he held influential roles in the industry. He was Development Director at a large supplier of ready meals, Head of Innovation at a seafood business with a turnover of £100m a year, and also had a successful business partnership with TV chef Phil Vickery. As a product innovator, supplying to Sainsbury’s came with the territory and he’s worked regularly with us over the course of his career.


A dedication to innovation led Steven to set up Grubworkz, a product development and innovation consultancy with a speciality of high-end ready-to-cook sous vide products. Sous vide means ‘under vacuum’. It’s a modern method of cooking where food is sealed in airtight plastic bags and cooked in a water bath to specific times and to very precise temperatures. It enhances taste, succulence and texture for a wide range of foods.

He reconnected with Sainsbury’s thanks to a partnership with Randall Parker Foods, one of our long-standing lamb suppliers. He’d contacted Randall Parker in search of a special cut of lamb and they quickly hit it off. They were impressed with Steven’s passion for food and saw an opportunity in his sous vide cooking to offer us something new and exciting.


“We developed an lovely sous vide lamb joint,” said Steven, “which customers could cook and carve in an hour. With the help of meat experts Randall Parker, we presented it to Sainsbury’s and they loved it. They told us they had nothing like it and asked us to make it happen for Easter.”

For a small business, that’s not as straightforward as it sounds. “We’ve taken on extra people and restructured the business to produce more than 6,000 joints for Easter,” said Steven. “It’s been a massive tsunami of work, but very rewarding. The feedback during each of the development stages has been really inspiring. The product’s amazing and we hope there’s enough positive energy from sales that it can act as a springboard to supply more great new products.”

“I wouldn’t ordinarily have approached a big retailer, because I’d have said it was too soon,” he added. “But Randall Parker and Sainsbury’s Technical Manager Sheena Gordine have been extraordinary, and we’ve forged an incredible team spirit. Everyone’s been really supportive to help bring this to life.

“I’ve always had such a great fondness for Sainsbury’s. They have fantastic creative and passionate colleagues, and they’re always prepared to support an embryonic supplier and get behind them. They’ve given us huge support in order to do this for their customers – which I think is fabulous.”


Find out more about Grubworkz products at

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