Justin King to leave Sainsburys

Justin King to leave Sainsburys

After a decade of leading Sainsbury’s from the top, chief executive officer, Justin King is to hand the reins over to commercial director, Mike Coupe in July.

He will step down at the company’s annual general meeting but his next move is not yet know, although some newspaper reports speculate his resignation could signal a move to Marks & Spencer.

Commenting on the speculation King said: “I have been definitely 100 per cent focused on my job at Sainsbury’s and have not talked to anyone about any job.” He leaves without a pay-off but can cash in millions of pounds worth of shares.

The manner of Justin King’s departure from Sainsbury’s shows a new sensitivity to the image of greedy fat cat bosses, according to Professor Andre Spicer of Cass Business School: “Justin King is leaving at about the right time. CEOs who step down too early or too late have a negative effect on company performance after they leave. His departure will create some uncertainty among investors, reflected in the wobbly share price. It might also create a sense of loss among some employees. Given King has been in post for some time, he may cast a shadow over his successor. 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.

“The decision to go in-house for a new CEO is an excellent idea. It might not give some analysts the scent of fresh blood they might hope for, but it will mean he has a detailed knowledge of internal problems and opportunities within the firm. The appointment signals a wise gradual approach rather than a radical rupture. Too often outside appointments boost share prices in the short term, but implement generic strategies which do not fit their new company, damaging performance in the long term.

“King’s decision to shun various post position perks shows a new sensitivity among senior leaders to the image of greedy fat cat bosses. It signals recognition that excessive executive perks have soured many members of the public, who also shop in his company’s stores and own company shares.”

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