After almost six years as chief executive officer (ceo) and 15 years working for J Sainsbury plc (Sainsbury’s), Mike Coupe has confirmed his intention to retire later this year. He will continue in his role as ceo until the end of May.
In a statement, the supermarket chain said that chairman Martin Scicluna and the retailer’s nomination committee led ‘a thorough search process, assisted by external headhunters, which included both internal and external candidates. The board has agreed to appoint retail and operations director Simon Roberts as Mike’s successor’. Simon will start as ceo from June 1.
Mike will remain a director from June 1 until the company’s AGM on July 2, at which point he will retire from the company. During this time, Mike will be available to Simon, the chairman and the board and will support with the transition and an orderly handover of responsibilities.
Chairman Martin Scicluna said: “Mike is an exceptional chief executive. His knowledge and understanding of the retail sector and customer behaviour is second to none. Mike has been bold and ambitious on behalf of our shareholders, customers and our colleagues. Investing heavily in convenience, online and our digital capability, selling Sainsbury’s pharmacy business and acquiring Argos and Nectar have all been sound strategic moves. These set us up well as we come together to create one multi-brand, multichannel business for our customers.
“Mike has spent more than 15 years working for Sainsbury’s and he has added enormous value to the business, to our colleagues and to our shareholders over that time. The board and I are very grateful to him for his service and we look forward to continuing to work together until the AGM. I know that Mike will continue to be dedicated and passionate about the business throughout this time.
“I’m delighted to be able to confirm Simon Roberts as Mike’s successor. Simon has been extremely effective during his three years at Sainsbury’s, leading our store teams through great change in that time. Simon is a dedicated, determined and enthusiastic champion of the customer and of our colleagues and has overseen sustained improvements in our competitiveness during his time so far. I would like to congratulate Simon on his appointment. I and the board are looking forward to working closely with him over the coming years.”
Mike commented: “I feel very privileged to have spent almost six years running Sainsbury’s, in a period that has been the most challenging and competitive of my 35 year career in retail. Sainsbury’s is a very different business today to the one I took over in 2014. I have focused on setting the business up to deal with the strategic challenges of our industry. I’m proud that almost 20% of our total sales now come from our online channels and that we are becoming one multi-brand, multichannel business, able to continue to evolve and adapt with customers’ ever changing needs. Adding Argos and Nectar to the business improves our ability to make shopping increasingly convenient for customers and to reward them for their loyalty. We have also been focused on investing in value, so that customers feel confident they are getting quality food at great prices when they shop with us.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me personally. There is never a good time to move on, but as we and the industry continue to evolve, I believe now is the right time for me to hand over to my successor. Martin and I both believe the business is well set up, with a strong management team and a clear plan for the future. I’m delighted that Simon will be the next chief executive and am confident that he is the right choice for our customers, our colleagues and our investors. I will do everything I can to set Simon up for success and will remain committed to Sainsbury’s well beyond my departure.”
Simon added: “Sainsbury’s is a tremendous business, with over 27 million customers a week and market-leading brands across food, general merchandise, clothing and financial services. Sainsbury’s is led by a highly experienced and committed management team and I’m really excited about working together with our 178,000 colleagues to become one multi-brand, multichannel business. As we come together, I’m feeling hugely energised by what we can do for our customers and our colleagues. I firmly believe in our ability to create value for our shareholders as we continue to evolve and adapt this great business for the future.
“I would also like to thank Mike for his leadership of Sainsbury’s over the past six years and for all his support since I joined the business. I have huge admiration for him. He is an outstanding retail leader and I look forward to working closely with him as we hand over in the coming months.”
Simon’s base salary on appointment will be £875,000.