Sainsbury boss Mike Coupe steps down with ex-Boots executive Simon Roberts as lead

Sainsbury’s boss resigns: Mike ‘We are in the money’ Coupe reversed by the failed acquisition of Asda and the suffering share price while the man inside Simon Roberts takes his job since June

  • CEO Mike Coupe will leave the supermarket in late May
  • Simon Roberts, formerly of Boots, is stepping up to replace him on June 1st
  • The time in charge of the Coupe overshadowed by a failed merger offer with Asda

Sainsbury CEO Mike Coupe is standing and retiring after six years of tenure, the supermarket has revealed.

Coupe, which launched the failed attempt to buy rival Asda in 2018 – during which it was notoriously caught singing “We are in the money” in the national media, will remain until the end of May. The company’s director of retail and operations, Simon Roberts, will replace him.

Roberts, 48, joined Sainsbury in 2017 after serving as executive vice president of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president of his Boots unit. Previously, he was CEO of Boots UK.

Mike Coupe resigns after six years as Sainsbury’s CEO

His appointment means that two of the UK’s largest supermarkets will be run by Boots’s alumni, as Ken Murphy, the former joint general manager of Boots UK and Ireland, will succeed Dave Lewis as Tesco’s CEO in the summer.

Sainsbury’s has been engaged in a tough battle with other major British supermarkets for a share of the shopping market in recent years, as have German discount chains, Aldi and Lidl.

The battle brought the Coupe’s time to office to be overshadowed by the prolonged and eventually the offer to merge with the rival Asda, owned by the American chain Walmart, failed.

The traumatic merger, whose plans were first revealed in April 2018, was made impossible by concerns raised by the competition watchdog that Sainsbury’s could not adequately address.

Most commentators had expected Coupe to leave following last April’s bankruptcy, but have remained in office so far.

But his stance was made unsustainable by the sick Sainsbury share price, which has fallen by around 20% in the past year and a third since July 2018.

Coupe said: ‘I feel very privileged to have spent almost six years managing Sainsbury’s, in a period that has been the most challenging and competitive of my 35-year career in the retail sector. Sainsbury’s is today a very different company from the one I took over in 2014. “

The outgoing boss said he was “proud” that nearly 20% of total sales now come from online.

‘This was a very difficult decision for me personally. There is never a good time to move forward, but as we and the industry continue to evolve, I think now is the right time for me to hand over to my successor. “

Sainsbury's has been engaged in a battle with other major British supermarkets and German discount chains Aldi and Lidl.

Sainsbury’s has been engaged in a battle with other major British supermarkets and the German discount chains Aldi and Lidl.

Sainsbury’s chairman Martin Scicluna paid tribute to Coupe, who spent more than a decade and a half with the company, saying “At that time he added enormous value to the company, to our colleagues and to our shareholders.”

Di Roberts said, “Simon has been extremely effective during his three years in Sainsbury,” guiding our shop teams through major changes at the time. ”

“Simon is a dedicated, determined and enthusiastic champion of the client and our colleagues and has so far overseen sustained improvements in our competitiveness during his time.”

Russ Mold, investment director of AJ Bell, said: ‘Goodbye, Mike Coupe, the hungry boss of Sainsbury who unfortunately could be remembered for his singing rather than for retail. He danced with Argos and Nectar, but stumbled in an attempt to marry Asda and collaborate with the Danish retailer Netto in the UK.

“Just when you thought you were surprised to sing with the camera” we are in the money “was a low point, the merger of Asda did not happen afterwards and Coupe was left to scribble for a plan B.”

“Despite these hiccups, it is fair to say that he was not afraid of making some bold strategic decisions, although perhaps he should have paid more attention to the day-to-day running of the business,” continued Mold. ‘Argos is proving to be a good business and the recent grocery trade has been quite tough despite intense competition on the market.

‘The replacement for the Coupe is Simon Roberts, currently director of sales and operations at Sainsbury’s. With a background in Marks & Spencer and Boots, he will be no stranger to the operational challenges facing large retailers. “

“His agenda is likely to focus on getting more out of existing business rather than finding new things to hold onto. Like most retailers, the priority is to have a superior digital offering and a supply chain of first rate. This will likely involve investments in IT and logistics, something that looks very similar to the current situation of Marks & Spencer. ”

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