Sainsbury’s to restructure marketing as head of own brand departs

Sainsbury’s head of own brand marketing Kirstin Knight has left the supermarket after 20 years to take up the role of head of grocery retail at Kantar Worldpanel.

The supermarket giant says Knight will be replaced internally and her role is likely to be broken up.

“We are in the process of changing our marketing structure as part of a broader business effort to streamline our central operations,” a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman told Marketing Week. “We are recruiting for all current vacancies internally at this stage.”

In January, Sainsbury’s announced it would cut 500 head office staff as part of its plans to cut up to £500m in operating costs over the next three years.

Sainsbury’s said in a statement at the time that “each member of the operating board has been asked to look at their respective divisions in great detail to decide where to reduce costs.” Marketing it now appears is one of the departments set to be streamlined.

Knight’s departure is a high-profile exit for the marketing team as Sainsbury’s has ramped up its own-brand offer over recent years.

Just last year, the retailer said its own-brand ranges, basics and Taste the Difference, were giving it “a clear competitive advantage,” with own-brand growing at over twice the rate of branded goods in both sales and volumes.

In her own statement, Knight she was “excited to join the Kantar Worldpanel team and reinforce its position as the market leader for consumer and retail research.”

Big-four reconstruction

Sainsbury’s strategy to cut head office staff follows the recent decision by Tesco’s new boss, Dave Lewis, to close its Cheshunt head office, where 3,000 staff are based, and cut the number of store managers. Asda and Morrisons have also made moves to cut the number of in-store managerial roles.

Much like Tesco, Sainsbury’s has been hit hard by the rise of the discounters after recently suffering its first fall in Christmas sales for more than a decade.

Sainsbury’s festive like-for-like sales fell by 1.7pc in the 14 weeks to January 3, 2014, excluding fuel. Total sales, meanwhile, fell 0.4pc, or 2.5pc including fuel.

The UK’s second biggest supermarket will cut the price of 1,000 products this year, an investment worth £150m, as it prepares to fight back.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here