LONDON (Reuters) — After a decade at the helm, Justin King stepped down as chief executive officer of Sainsbury's on Wednesday, with its chairman reassuring the grocer's investors that a tough market and the rise of discounters wouldn't stop it prospering under his successor.
King left the over 1,230 store British retailer at the conclusion of its annual shareholders meeting in central London and was succeeded by commercial director Mike Coupe; a promotion that was revealed in January.
"I'm sure of one thing, Justin's departure doesn't mean the end of this success story," said chairman David Tyler.
He paid tribute to King, calling him a "guiding light to all of us," prompting a partial standing ovation from a packed room of, mainly elderly, private investors.
King joined as cel in March 2004 and in his 10 years transformed the 145-year-old group's fortunes, delivering over 10 billion pounds ($17 billion) in incremental sales, a near-tripling in earnings and total shareholder return (TSR) of 85 percent.
But he departs with Sainsbury's — in common with its big rivals, market leader Tesco, Wal-Mart's Asda and Morrisons — battling the lowest growth in the sector for a decade and the two pronged challenge of discount grocers Aldi and Lidl and upmarket players such as Waitrose.
Sainsbury's run of 36 straight quarters of like-for-like sales growth under King came to an end in March and it has since posted another quarterly fall.
Tyler said the board was confident Sainsbury's differentiated offer would see it emerge as a winner. That includes a focus on own-brand products, online and convenience stores, as well as expansion into non-food items and financial services.
"I know I leave the business in safe hands," said King, 53, without giving any clues on what he plans to do next.
He has said he wants another big job, though a "non-compete" deal rules him out of taking a role with any rival grocery chain for 12 months.
"Mr. King has done a fantastic job here... Is there any chance Mr. King could rescue Marks & Spencer?" asked private shareholder George Conway.
Coupe, as cel designate, has already made his mark, fronting last month's move by Sainsbury's to team-up with Denmark's Dansk Supermarked to bring the Netto brand back to the UK and take on the fast-growing German discount chains at their own game.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye