The group’s commercial director Mike Croupe, who has been responsible for trading, marketing and digital platforms since 2010, will replace him.
King said: “This was not an easy decision for me to make, and in truth it will never feel like the right time to leave a company like Sainsbury’s. It has been a privilege to have led the company for the past 10 years and I am incredibly proud of our achievements in that time.”
King joined in 2004 and turned the struggling group around. He has delivered 35 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth amid torrid economic conditions and this Christmas Sainsbury’s reclaimed its spot as Britain’s second-largest retailer by overtaking Asda’s market share.
He added: “It is the 157,000 colleagues that make Sainsbury’s so special and I would like to thank them for their amazing efforts over the last decade in making Sainsbury’s great again. I am confident that under Mike’s leadership the business will go from strength to strength.”
Coupe will take over in July.
He said: “It’s an absolute honour to be appointed as the new chief executive of Sainsbury’s in the company’s 145th year and at a time when, thanks to Justin’s leadership, we have been consistently outperforming the market. I very much look forward to building on that success for our customers, colleagues, suppliers and shareholders.”
Chairman David Tyler added: “Justin is a truly exceptional leader, who has reshaped Sainsbury’s during his 10 years as chief executive, as well as playing a leading role in the sector and wider business world. The board thanks him for his outstanding achievements in making Sainsbury’s great again. He leaves a lasting legacy, with the company stronger than ever.
“We are delighted to appoint a chief exutive of Mike’s unique talent and experience as Justin’s successor to lead the next chapter of Sainsbury’s history. No one knows Sainsbury’s – or the industry – better than Mike. He has worked hand-in-hand with Justin over the past decade and has a proven track record of success making him the natural choice to take the company forward.”