King joined Sainsbury’s as chief executive in March 2004 when the supermarket was losing share and sales to rivals. The supermarket’s fortunes have improved considerably since and it recently reported its 36th consecutive quarter of growth. He has also held executive positions at Asda, Häagen Dazs, Mars and Pepsi.
King says in a statement: “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.
“It is the 157,000 colleagues that make Sainsbury’s so special and I would like to thank them for their amazing efforts over the last decade in making Sainsbury’s great again. I am confident that under Mike’s leadership the business will go from strength to strength.”
Mike Coupe will succeed King in July. He joined Sainsbury’s in July 2010 as group commercial director responsible for marketing, trading, IT and its online grocery division.
Coupe, who was previously managing director of Iceland Foods and trading director at Asda, has led the supermarket’s recent attack on Tesco over values, writing several company blogs questioning how its rival can credibly compare products based on price and ignore the provenance of the product.
Coupe says: “It’s an absolute honour to be appointed as the new CEO of Sainsbury’s in this, the company’s 145th year, and at a time when thanks to Justin’s leadership, we have been consistently outperforming the market. I very much look forward to building on that success for our customers, colleagues, suppliers and shareholders.”