J SAINSBURY boss Justin King yesterday dismissed rumours that he plans to step down as “complete fiction”, insisting he remained committed to the retailer, after revealing another strong set of results.
King laughed-off mounting speculation that he will move on after a decade at the helm, saying: “The good thing about the speculation is that my name has been mentioned in the same breath as Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I have been clear about my position... I am committed to Sainsbury’s and I see myself playing a part for the foreseeable future,” he said, declining to confirm whether he would still be in the role next year.
“I am not going to answer impossible questions,” he said.
His comments came as the UK’s third largest supermarket reported a 6.2 per cent rise in underlying profit in the year to 16 March, fuelled by strong growth in online and convenience store sales.
Its convenience store business is growing at over 18 per cent year-on-year while online grocery sales are increasing nearly 20 per cent year-on-year. The group said the 1.4 per cent fall in actual pre-tax profits to £788m, reflected lower property gains, as the group completed fewer sale and lease-backs compared with last year.
King also called on the government to create a “level playing field” on tax paid by online retail companies and high street retailers.
He said traditional retailers were at a disadvantage to international online players such as Amazon which benefit from the lower corporation tax but do not have to pay business rates faced by high street retailers.
RICHARD CUMBLEY AND MICHAEL HONAN
SAINSBURY’S hired lawyers from City giant Linklaters to work on the acquisition deal, as well as investment banks Morgan Stanley and UBS.
The law firm has a good grounding already with the deal – they worked with the retailer on the legal arrangements surrounding the joint venture back in 2007.
That puts the firm in good stead to advise on the acquisition of the remaining half of the Bank from Lloyds Banking Group.
Their team of more than 50 staff is headed by partner Richard Cumbley and corporate managing associate Michael Honan.
They are joined by Mark Stamp, a former Linklaters partner who has also worked with the retailer before and is now a partner at law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy.
Meanwhile Morgan Stanley’s team on the deal is headed by corporate brokerage boss Paul Baker and managing director Ben Grindley.
Swiss bank UBS is also advising on the deal – it has been Sainsbury’s house broker for the past five years.
The investment bank’s UK vice chairman Huw Glynn Davies is leading their team, alongside Tim Pratelli, a managing director on the corporate broking side.