Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe has announced he will be leaving the retailer in May after six years at the helm (The Financial Times £). Simon Roberts, the company’s retail and operations director, will replace Coupe in June, having joined Sainsbury’s in 2017 after 13 years at Boots (The Telegraph).
Coupe had been forced to face questions about his future with the retailer since April, following the failure of Sainsbury’s planned merged with Asda for £7.3bn, which he had orchestrated (The Guardian).
The management change comes just four months after Coupe had announced a new strategy to cut costs by £500m following the failed merger and increasing pressure from the discounters (The Times £). Just Tuesday, Sainsbury’s had said it would cut hundreds of management jobs, blaming the continued integration of Argos, bought in 2016, for the decision (Sky News).
Coupe is in line for a payout of almost £4m for his work at the grocer this year, assuming certain targets are met (The Telegraph).
In an opinion piece, The Financial Times argues that Sainsbury’s share price reaction to the news – a 1% to 2% fall during the day – is a reflection of the unsurprising nature of Coupe’s retirement, a move “hardly unexpected” following the failed Asda takeover which costed Sainsbury’s about £50m. Sainsbury’s share value and earnings during Coupe’s tenure dropped 30% (The Financial Times £).
The Telegraph responded with another harsh comment piece describing the “botched” Asda merger as Coupe’s legacy from his time at Sainsbury’s. As chairman Martin Scicluna describes Coupe as an “exceptional chief executive”, who has been “bold and ambitious”, the newspaper responds stating that there is “ambition and then there is delusion”. “All the spin in the world won’t repair the damage to Coupe’s reputation from the aborted talks with Asda,” the article continues.
The Guardian’s opinion piece is a little more forgiving, arguing this is the perfect timing for Coupe to leave Sainsbury’s. ”Reinvigoration tends to be easier under a new boss,” the article claims and the failed Asda merger left Sainsbury’s badly in need of reinvigoration.
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