The new chairman of J Sainsbury, Britain’s third-largest supermarket chain, is plotting a boardroom shake-up months after the collapse of its £15bn merger with rival Asda.
Sky News has learnt that Matt Brittin, the boss of Alphabet Inc-owned Google’s operations in Europe, and Jean Tomlin, a former Marks & Spencer executive, are to step down from the Sainsbury’s board next year.
City sources said the company could announce their departures, and the search for their replacements, as soon as this week.
MWM Consulting, a boardroom headhunter, has been appointed to identify two new board members, according to insiders.
Mr Brittin will have served as a director for nine years in January, meaning he would no longer be deemed independently under the UK corporate governance code, while Ms Tomlin is expected to step down after just over seven years.
Their departures will give Martin Scicluna, who took over as Sainsbury’s chairman earlier this year, the chance to inject new blood on to a board which analysts believed requires fresh momentum.
The grocer’s shares have fallen by almost a third during the last year, with competition regulators’ decision to block the tie-up with Asda seen as a blow to its chief executive, Mike Coupe.
Sainsbury’s has dismissed recent media speculation that it is undertaking a formal search for Mr Coupe’s successor, but there is little doubt among shareholders that picking a long-term replacement will be among Mr Scicluna’s most important tasks.
Last month, Sainsbury’s outlined plans to cut costs by £500m, stop committing new capital to its banking arm and close dozens of Argos stores in an attempt to persuade investors that it has a bright independent future.
Mr Coupe also said it would reduce pension contributions by £50m each year.
Its plot to merge with Asda, the Walmart-owned chain, stunned the retail sector and would have been the most significant corporate transaction in the industry since Safeway was acquired by Wm Morrison 15 years ago.
The Competition and Markets Authority took a dim view of the deal, however, and called a halt to it during the spring.
That decision has left Sainsbury’s resuming a stand-alone battle for market share in a fiercely competitive market in which the German discounters Aldi and Lidl have made significant inroads in recent years.
Asda is now preparing for a stock market listing in London through a demerger from Walmart that could take place as soon as next year.
Meanwhile, Tesco, the market leader, is braced for a leadership transition when Dave Lewis steps down as chief executive next year to be replaced by Ken Murphy, a senior executive at Boots The Chemist’s parent company.
Sainsbury’s declined to comment on Tuesday.
Credit: Source link