Sainsbury’s chief Justin King has stepped down after ten years with Group Commercial Director Mike Coupe set to take over in July.
King said: “This was not an easy decision for me to make, and in truth it will never feel like the right time to leave a company like Sainsbury’s. It has been a privilege to have led the Company for the past 10 years and I am incredibly proud of our achievements in that time.”
David Tyler, Chairman said: “Justin is a truly exceptional leader, who has reshaped Sainsbury’s during his 10 years as CEO, as well as playing a leading role in the sector and wider business world. The Board thanks him for his outstanding achievements in ‘Making Sainsbury’s Great Again’. He leaves a lasting legacy, with the Company stronger than ever.”
King, the longest serving CEO of the big four, took Sainsbury’s from struggling grocer in 2004 to the second largest in the UK and will stand down on 9 July 2014.
Its turnover over a ten year period was boosted by King from £14.4bn to £24.1bn - an impressive rise of 108 per cent, according to IGD.
Mike Coupe, CEO designate said it was an absolute honour to be appointed as the new CEO of Sainsbury’s. “I very much look forward to building on that success for our customers, colleagues, suppliers and shareholders,” he said.
John Rogers continues as Chief Financial Officer.
There has also been speculation that King, who is a huge racing fan, could take over from Bernie Eccleston as F1 boss. Sainsbury’s denied the claim last April but today’s news will fuel rumours that King could be set for the role.
Phil Dorrell, director of the retail consultants, Retail Remedy, said: “Justin King’s departure was widely expected but it’s still disappointing to see him go. He was one of the stand-out personalities within retail.
“During his 10 years at the helm, he injected energy into Sainsbury’s and gave it a vision and direction it had previously lacked.
“Mike Coupe needs to make his own mark but in the early days he should simply ride out the momentum provided by King.”
Sainsbury’s shares fell more than 2 per cent on the news.