King to step down from Sainsbury's

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King is to step down from his role after a decade in charge of the supermarket chain.

Announcing his departure, King said he was incredibly proud of the store’s achievement s over the past 10 years and praised the company’s staff “for helping to make Sainsbury’s great again”.

“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," he said.

The company’s chairman David Tyler praised King as "a truly exceptional leader" and said he had left "a lasting legacy".

Since King took over in 2004, Sainsbury’s said it had added 10 million additional customers a week and increased sales by a total of £9.5bn. Underlying profits have risen in that time from £254m in 2004-05 to £756m in 2012-13.

The store’s online business has grown in that time, and is now worth £1bn, with more than 190,000 orders each week

The share price hit a high of 600p in June 2007, but is now about 346p.

Professor Andre Spicer of Cass Business School said King had timed his departure well, but warned he might be a tough act to follow. “Given King has been in post for some time, he may cast a shadow over his successor,” he said. “Mike Coupe faces a tough challenge of navigating between trying to live up to King's legacy or trying to create a break. Either task is going to be tough.”

King has reportedly offered to forego his cash severance payment, which could be worth up to £1.7m when he leaves.

His replacement will be Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's current group commercial director, who will take over after the company’s agm on 9 July on an annual salary of £900,000 a year.

Shares fell 2% on the news of King’s departure.

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