J Sainsbury Plc chief executive, Mike Coupe, is stepping down and will be succeeded at the U.K. grocer by retail head Simon Roberts.
The move comes less than a year after the collapse of a planned purchase of Walmart Inc.’s Asda, as Sainsbury and other British supermarkets struggle with price competition from discounters and a shift to online shopping.
Roberts, 48, joined Sainsbury as retail and operations director in July 2017 and previously worked at Marks & Spencer Group Plc and drugstore chain Boots.
Coupe, 59, has been CEO for almost six years and will continue in the role until May, when he’ll retire, Sainsbury said today.
The move accelerates a changing of the guard at the top of U.K. retailers, after Tesco Plc CEO Dave Lewis announced his departure in October.
Roberts had been seen as a leading contender for the top job at Sainsbury, alongside Chief Financial Officer Kevin O’Byrne, who previously worked at variety store chain Poundland.
Coupe told employees yesterday that Sainsbury would cut hundreds of management jobs as part of a plan to merge the commercial, retail, finance, digital, technology and human resource teams of the Sainsbury supermarket and Argos electrical chains.