360° Coverage : A Very Modern Leadership Handover

1 Updates

A Very Modern Leadership Handover

Jan 29 2014, 10:51pm CST | by

The announcement that Justin King is to step down as chief executive of the UK supermarket group J Sainsbury in the summer was hardly a shock. There had been speculation that King, who is credited...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

38 weeks ago

A Very Modern Leadership Handover

Jan 29 2014, 10:51pm CST | by

The announcement that Justin King is to step down as chief executive of the UK supermarket group J Sainsbury in the summer was hardly a shock. There had been speculation that King, who is credited with transforming the company in his decade at the helm, was preparing to leave. Indeed, given the immaculate planning that appears to have preceded the announcement it would have been more of a surprise if nothing of King’s intentions had leaked out in recent weeks.

Moira Benigson, CEO of The MBS Group, an executive search consultancy, has known King since he started his career and worked with him to build his team at Sainsbury’s. She recalls how at “one of my annual inspirational cups of tea” with Archie Norman, the former head of Asda, the rival supermarket chain where King cut his teeth, she was told that King was “the most articulate CEO” in the FTSE100 list of leading UK companies.

She adds: “Having known Justin since he was about 28, I have watched him become an exceptional leader who steered Sainsbury’s through the most challenging time in its history and he made it great again.  To have taken on that challenge and succeeded as a first-time CEO with a company so close to British people’s hearts for a decade is nothing short of extraordinary.”

There is intense speculation about what King might do next. Some believe he may be in line to run the Formula 1 motor racing business – partly on the basis that he is a keen fan as a result of his son being an aspirant driver. Others think that his assured public performances on current affairs television and elsewhere suggest a government role. Still others believe he might be tempted by the chance to turn around the fortunes of another retailer.

More important, for now, is what he has left behind. Certainly, Sainsbury’s is in a much better place now than it was when he took over. In the words of David Tyler, the company chairman with whom King has worked closely both on the turnaround and the succession planning, the company was “on its knees” 10 years ago. In a period that has seen intense competition in the UK supermarket sector he has transformed the business without losing sight of its middle-class credentials – leading it to 36 consecutive quarters of sales growth and, just recently, restoring it to second in its market, albeit still well behind the leader, Tesco.

Perhaps mindful of what has happened since Sir Terry Leahy stepped down as long-time head of Tesco, analysts and other observers have been wary of echoing Tyler’s claim that King would leave “a lasting legacy”. What is perhaps more certain is that the departure looks like a textbook case of a modern leadership handover.

Benigson says that King’s “most important legacy” is that he was never afraid to hire the best. “He hired his successor, Mike Coupe, and he has hired bench strength beneath that for the future, too,” she adds. Coupe, who was reportedly singled out as the heir-apparent about a year ago, has extensive experience in a variety of retailers as well as Sainsbury’s of the nitty-gritty aspects of running these businesses, and so helped the company become more effective.

Most of all, perhaps, King – influenced by his Asda days under Archie Norman and Allan Leighton – made Sainsbury’s more modern and accountable. There is a story that, soon after taking over in 2004, King asked where all the customer complaints were. He was told that they were handled by a team in the depths of the company’s headquarters. King’s reaction was to bring that team to work alongside him and to personally answer the letters received in his first six months.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashi ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Google offers free access to satellite images
New York, Oct 28 (IANS) Tracking melting glaciers, deforestation or disappearing elephants has been made easier as Google has now allowed access to real time, updated satellite images through its Skybox programme.
 
 
Infants know what your eyes tell
New York, Oct 28 (IANS) The ability to respond to eye cues develops during infancy - at seven or so months, finds research.
 
 
NASA tool to identify drought-resilient plants
Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) The US space agency is developing a new space-based instrument to study how plants react to heat and water stress and identify drought-resilient plants.
 
 
Child arrived from West Africa tests negative for Ebola
New York, Oct 28 (IANS/EFE) A 5-year-old boy who recently arrived in the US from West Africa and was admitted to a New York hospital with a fever has tested negative for the Ebola virus, authorities said Monday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Pistorius prosecutors to appeal verdict, sentence
Johannesburg, Oct 28 (IANS/EFE) South African prosecutors involved in the Oscar Pistorius case will appeal the verdict and sentence on the double-amputee Olympic athlete's manslaughter conviction, which resulted in a...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Racers from 24 nations to compete in Mexico's Baja 1000
Mexico City, Oct 28 (IANS) The 2014 Baja 1000 off-road race through Mexico's Baja California Peninsula will feature competitors from 24 countries, organisers said. The competition, now in its 47th edition, will take...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Pakistanis protest India's 'occupation' in Kashmir
Islamabad, Oct 28 (IANS) Pakistanis across the world held demonstrations to mark the anniversary of what they termed as India's invasion and occupation of Kashmir Oct 27, 1947, media reported Tuesday. The Pakistani...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
New Zealand, US to hold joint military exercise
Wellington, Oct 28 (IANS) New Zealand and the US will conduct a month-long joint military exercise next month to test their deployment agility. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Tuesday said that its army and air...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Pakistan prepares to cope with cyclone
Islamabad, Oct 28 (IANS) Pakistan is gearing up to cope with a cyclone headed its way. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been asked to take necessary measures to meet the challenge posed by cyclone...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Future-focused women fight climate change better
Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) Future-oriented women are more likely to take concrete steps to reduce global warming, says a study. "They are more politically liberal and liberals are more likely to value the environment...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Infants know what your eyes tell
New York, Oct 28 (IANS) The ability to respond to eye cues develops during infancy - at seven or so months, finds research. "Our study provides developmental evidence for the notion that humans possess specific brain...
Read more on Business Balla
 
US concerned over Israeli decision on new homes
Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) The US is "deeply concerned" by reports that Israel would build more settler homes in east Jerusalem, the state department has said. "Israel's leaders have said they would support a pathway...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Malaysian diplomat on sex attack charge granted bail
Wellington, Oct 28 (IANS) A Malaysian diplomat accused of a sex attack on a young woman here in May was granted bail on his second appearance since his extradition in the Wellington District Court Tuesday. Former...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
NASA tool to identify drought-resilient plants
Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) The US space agency is developing a new space-based instrument to study how plants react to heat and water stress and identify drought-resilient plants. The instrument called the ECOsystem...
Read more on Business Balla