Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe quits after six years

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The boss of Sainsbury’s has quit after almost six years at the helm of the supermarket.

Mike Coupe said he intends to stay in his role until the end of May.

He will be replaced by Simon Roberts, the chain’s retail and operations director, who will start in June.

Mr Coupe’s tenure is expected to be seen mainly for attempting a series of acquisitions including buying Argos and Habitat, and the failed merger with Asda which was blocked by competition officials.

He has agreed to waive any future bonuses, but he will still receive his bonus for the coming year alongside a proportion of his £962,000 base salary until he leaves.

Mr Roberts will have a base salary of £875,000 – a 9% cut on Mr Coupe’s – with pension contributions of 7.5% from the business.

Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts (Sainsbury’s/PA)

Chairman Martin Scicluna, who led the hunt for Mr Coupe’s replacement, said: “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, multi-channel business for our customers.”

Mr Coupe attempted to expand Sainsbury’s offering through acquisitions, but also through heavy cost-cutting in staffing and management levels throughout the business.

His final takeover battle proved a step too far as the Competition and Markets Authority blocked a deal with Asda, despite Mr Coupe’s insistence that it would help reduce the price of goods for shoppers.

He had caused unease at Asda’s parent company Walmart after he was caught on camera singing “We’re in the Money” from the musical 42nd Street.

A process to find Mr Coupe’s replacement started a few months ago under Mr Scicluna – who himself joined the supermarket just over two years ago.

At the time of his appointment, the chairman was asked whether he wanted to replace Mr Coupe, but said no plans were in place. In an interview with The Times, he was asked whether Mr Coupe would be sacked, responding: “A hundred per cent, no.”

Mr Coupe said he was leaving after “the most challenging and competitive” time of a 35-year career in retail.

He added: “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.”

Mr Roberts said: “As we come together, I am 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.”

Mr Roberts has been with Sainsbury’s since July 2017, having previously worked as president of Boots UK, and 15 years at M&S running stores during its peak period between 1993 and 2003.

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