New Sainsbury’s boss promises to ‘listen more to customers’ as he promotes CMO to the board

The new CEO of Sainsbury’s believes the changes will help the supermarket get closer to customers, who he also says he will be spending a lot more time with in focus groups.

Mark Given and Clo Moriarty join the board today

Sainsbury’s has promoted its chief marketing officer Mark Given to the board in a strategic move designed to help the supermarket get closer to its customers.

It is one of the first changes made by Sainsbury’s new chief executive Simon Roberts. He takes over from Mike Coupe – who has led the business since 2014 – today. He was previously retail and operations director at Sainsbury’s and has previously worked at Boots and Marks & Spencer.

“Mark’s appointment to the operating board will ensure that we really understand how customers are feeling, what they’re thinking and how this affects the way they shop,” says Roberts.

“Starting today, I will be spending more time with customers and listening to their feedback. I am really looking forward to hearing directly from people about what they want from us so we can change and adapt to ensure we are always meeting their needs.”

Given has been at Sainsbury’s for more than seven years in senior marketing roles. As well as responsibility for all brand and customer communications across Sainsbury’s, Argos and Tu clothing, he looks after customer insight, marketing strategy and planning, CRM & Loyalty, all digital marketing and the Nectar business.

Roberts has also appointed Clo Moriarty, previously chief digital director, to the new role of retail and digital director.

“Bringing together our retail and digital teams under Clo’s leadership will create a business that shows up in the same way for customers wherever they shop with us,” Roberts adds.

Underlying profit before tax was down 2% to £586m in the supermarket’s latest results, while group sales were down 0.1% to £32.4bn and supermarket sales down 0.1% as a result of weak general merchandise sales.

Digital generated £6bn of sales across the business in the year to 7 March, with online groceries up 7.6% year on year and Tu clothing online up 47% compared to in-store growth of 1.2%. Argos Click & Collect grew by nearly 8% and Argos Fast Track delivery grew by nearly 5% during the period.

In his final earnings call in April, Coupe said he would be leaving a brand that has a “very warm position” in customers’ hearts. However, he accepted that Roberts and his team would be “thinking very carefully” about how the business will need to adapt post-Covid.

“Ultimately our brand stands for helping our customers live well for less, what that means as we look forward may change,” said Coupe.

“The brand has a lot of warmth at the heart of it and if anything, looking at our customer satisfaction measures – despite the fact that the challenges we’ve had around supply and social distancing – have gone through the roof. That’s a testament to how warm our customers think about us as a business.”