Sainsbury's denies CEO Justin King is set to depart

Sainsbury's has moved to rebuff rumours that chief executive Justin King may soon leave the company, after reports suggested the supermarket has kicked off the search for his successor.

Justin King: Sainsbury's CEO
Justin King: Sainsbury's CEO

Reports emerged over the weekend that Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler had appointed executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder International to begin the search for a replacement for King, who has held the top job for nine years.

Early mooted candidates include current Sainsbury’s commercial director Mike Coupe, Marks & Spencer’s general merchandise director John Dixon, and soon-to-depart WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann.

This follows reports last month that King may be in pole position to replace Bernie Ecclestone as the boss of Formula 1. The Sainsbury’s boss’s son Jordan King will take part in this year’s European Formula 3 competition, while King is known to be a motor racing fan.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: "This is pure speculation. Justin has made his commitment to the business clear and is excited about the opportunities to grow and develop it. Any discussion of succession is totally premature."

Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-biggest supermarket, is expected to report its eighth consecutive year of profits growth on 8 May.

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