Tom Forsythe Sainsbury's

Source: Sainsbury’s

Forsythe had led Future Brands since 2021

The head of Sainsbury’s Future Brands programme has left the supermarket following the restructure of the incubator scheme.

Tom Forsythe, who had headed up Future Brands since 2021, left the supermarket on Friday after a decade at Sainsbury’s.

“With the latest evolution and change to the Future Brands programme, now felt like the right time for a new adventure,” he said in a LinkedIn post.

Sainsbury’s told The Grocer that it wished Forsythe “all the best in his future endeavours”. The supermarket is looking to recruit his successor, who will take the title of head of product direction.

The restructure, which was revealed exclusively by The Grocer last week, will see the Future Brands programme folded into a newly formed ‘Product Direction Team’ under Sainsbury’s director of product development and innovation, Claire Hughes.

The “evolution” would ensure that Sainsbury’s was set up to deliver “best support” in bringing challenger brands to market, while also improving its support for its own-label brands, which include Taste The Difference, Sainsbury’s said.

The restructure has generally been welcomed by members of the small business community, rather than being seen as a signal that Sainsbury’s was cooling its support for challenger brands.

In an op-ed published in The Grocer last week, Thea Alexander, founder and CEO of challenger brand consultancy YF, said she was “optimistic” about the opportunity for challenger brands as a result of the restructure, which would return “power” to buyers.

“Sainsbury’s is planning on making bigger bets on brands that really meet its strategic objectives. Brands should be thinking about how they become the success stories here,” Alexander wrote.

Forsythe first joined Sainsbury’s as a buyer in 2014, and for the past three years had led the Future Brands scheme as part of his wider remit as head of H&B and innovation.

“Safe to say it has been a wild ride over the last 10 years. I have had the pleasure of working in some fantastic teams, managing some truly world class people and latterly, over the last three years heading up the Future Brands programme and running Thrive with Sainsbury’s, meeting some incredible brands and their inspirational founders,” he said.

He planned to spend a period of “time off” with his family, before looking for his next “challenge”, he added.