Jan 29 - British grocer J Sainsbury says Justin King has decided to step down in July 2014 after 10 years as chief executive and will be succeeded by Mike Coupe, currently the group commercial director. Hayley Platt asks what his departure will mean for the UK retailer?
He's the man who put Sainsbury's back on top. Over a ten year reign, Justin King helped add more than 9 billion pounds in sales to the grocer, almost trebling its profit. So why is the CEO leaving? SOUNDBITE: Justin King, CEO, Sainsbury, saying (English): "Personally I'm passionate about this business and it's going to be tough getting up in the morning and know I'm not coming to work at Sainsbury's but one of the things all leaders have to do is decide when the time is right to hand over the reigns." King's departure had been rumoured for a while. But the news still knocked shares almost 3 percent, hitting an 11 month-low. Planet Retail's Steven Springham says it's hard to imagine Sainsbury's without King. SOUNDBITE: Seven Springham, senior retail analyst, Planet Retail, saying (English): "It's a big blow obviously, Justin King's record at Sainsbury's has been nothing short of phenomenal. He's really turned the business around in ten years. It seems a long while ago now but Sainsbury's was the sick man of the big four. Put the clock forward to where we are now, it's the best performing of the big four." Sainsbury's didn't have to look far for a successor. Mike Coupe - the company's commercial director - will take the helm in July when King leaves. But it's a tough market and the middle range 'big four' are being squeezed. SOUNDBITE: Seven Springham, senior retail analyst, Planet Retail, saying (English): "The ones that are gaining the most share are the polarised retailers, Waitrose and M&S at the top end , Aldi and Lidl at the bottom end. Those four are going to continue gaining market share, the big four, it's going to be a real bum fight." That's the big challenge facing Sainsbury's. And many are now wondering what King's next crown will be.