// Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe will retire from his role in May after six years in the role
// He will be succeeded by Sainsbury’s retail & operations director Simon Roberts from June 1
// News comes less than 24 hours after Sainsbury’s announced hundreds of job cuts in head office roles
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe is poised to step down after six years in the role as the Big 4 grocer embarks on another round of job cuts targeting head office roles.
Sainsbury’s said Coupe would remain in post until the end of May, after which he will be replaced by current retail and operations director, Simon Roberts, from June 1.
Although he has been its boss for six years, Coupe has worked for Sainsbury’s for more than 15 years and was instrumental in expanding the company through its £1.4 billion acquisition of Argos and Habitat in 2016.
Speculation emerged last year that Coupe was under pressure to resign after the proposed £12 billion merger with Big 4 rival Asda was blocked by the CMA, although Coupe himself insisted he would stay on as chief executive despite the failed takeover.
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Despite this, Sainsbury’s said that “a thorough search process”, led by chairman Martin Scicluna, across external and internal candidates took place before Roberts was selected as Coupe’s successor.
Roberts’ salary on appointment will be £875,000.
In this morning’s announcement, Scicluna paid tribute to Coupe.
“Mike has been bold and ambitious on behalf of our shareholders, customers and our colleagues,” the chairman said.
“Investing heavily in convenience, online and our digital capability, selling Sainsbury’s pharmacy business and acquiring Argos and Nectar have all been sound strategic moves.
“These set us up well as we come together to create one multi brand, multi channel business for our customers.”
Coupe said his decision to resign was a “very difficult” one, and that he was “proud” that nearly 20 per cent of Sainsbury’s total sales now come from online.
“I feel very privileged to have spent almost six years running Sainsbury’s, in a period that has been the most challenging and competitive of my 35-year career in retail,” he said.
“Sainsbury’s is a very different business today to the one I took over in 2014.”
He added: “This has been a very difficult decision for me personally.
“There is never a good time to move on, but as we and the industry continue to evolve, I believe now is the right time for me to hand over to my successor.”
Coupe’s resignation comes less than 24 hours after Sainsbury’s revealed it would carry out another round of job cuts, targeting hundreds of management roles in its latest business overhaul since taking over Argos.
Just before close yesterday, the retailer confirmed plans to further integrate the head office functions for both Sainsbury’s and Argos across departments including commercial, retail, finance, digital, technology and human resources.
It declined to reveal the total number of further roles that would be cut, but said it would be in the “hundreds”.
Consumer-facing staff will not be affected in the latest round of job cuts.
Sainsbury’s has already cut the number of senior leadership roles by more than a fifth since last March.
The company stressed that the job cuts are part of previously-announced plans to save £500 million in costs, which were first revealed after its failed attempt to merge with Asda.
Sainsbury’s and Argos have head office functions across London, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.
Sainsbury’s has been cutting out duplicate jobs and making efficiencies following the acquisition of Argos, while also looking to make savings amid a brutal price war with German discounters Aldi and Lidl.
The Big 4 grocer recently posted falling sales over its Christmas quarter as a tough toy and video games market offset a robust performance in food and clothing.
The group saw like-for-like retail sales fall 0.7 per cent, excluding fuel, in the 15 weeks to January 4.
Its performance was dragged lower by a 3.9 per cent fall in general merchandise sales – its worst performance since it bought out Argos.
Sainsbury’s warned that trading was set to remain “highly competitive and promotional” in 2020, with ongoing consumer uncertainty clouding the outlook.
with PA Wires