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Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe to retire after six years

Sainsbury’s has announced its CEO Mike Coupe is set to retire this year, after almost six years in the role.

He will continue his role as CEO until the end of May and will be succeeded by retail and operations director Simon Roberts, who will start his new role from 1 June.

Coupe has worked for Sainsbury’s for more than 15 years and was in charge of expanding the business through its £1.4bn acquisition of Argos and Habitat in 2016.

Coupe said: “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 am proud that almost 20% of our total sales now come from our online channels and that we are becoming one multi-brand, multi-channel business, able to continue to evolve and adapt with customers’ ever-changing needs.”

He added: “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 Scicluna, chairman, 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 inconvenience, 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, multi-channel business for our customers.”

The news follows as Sainsbury’s posted a 0.7% decline in like-for-like sales for the 15 weeks ending 4 January, as toy and gaming sales at Argos struggled.

The decrease came despite grocery sales increasing by 0.4%, with online grocery sales also up 7.3%. Sainsbury’s also reported that clothing sales also performed strongly, up 4.4% compared with the previous year, and was attributed to the colder weather and particular popularity in novelty Christmas jumpers.

Last year, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) prohibited Asda and Sainsbury’s from working with each other until 29 July 2019 after it blocked the supermarkets’ attempt at a merger.

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