Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe to step down in May

January 24, 2020

Sainsbury’s has announced that its chief executive, Mike Coupe, will retire in May after six years in charge of the UK’s second largest supermarket chain.

The 59-year-old will be succeeded by the grocer’s retail and operations director, Simon Roberts.

 

Coupe has faced questions about his future since April, when the competition regulator blocked Sainsbury’s attempt to take over its Walmart-owned rival Asda for £7.3bn. Coupe was the architect of that deal and Sainsbury’s share price has fallen 22% over the past year.

 

Roberts, a former managing director of the health and beauty retailer Boots, joined Sainsbury’s in 2017, with oversight of the logistics systems used by the company’s 1,400 stores as well as online operations.

 

Coupe was appointed as head of the supermarket in 2014. He oversaw the £1.4bn acquisition of the catalogue retailer Argos in 2016 but Sainsbury’s share price has fallen by more than 30% from the date he took over.

 

The retail analyst Nick Bubb said Coupe had “at last paid the price for the failure of last year’s Asda deal”. Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, an investment bank, praised Coupe’s tenure but said he had “materially overextended the business’s capabilities in the eyes of the regulator with the proposed Asda merger”.

 

Coupe described his time as Sainsbury’s boss as “the most challenging and competitive of my 35-year career in retail”.

 

He said: “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.”

 

Sainsbury’s profit is forecast to fall in its 2019-20 financial year. On Tuesday the supermarket said it expected to cut hundreds of jobs in management roles as part of a plan to save £500m in costs by 2024.

 

The chain, which employs 178,000 people, will also have to contend with an expected increase in online grocery orders. Online orders account for almost a fifth of Sainsbury’s total sales.

 

Coupe has agreed to waive his bonus and share awards for the 2020-21 financial year as he hands over to Roberts.

 

Source: The Guardian

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