It's not a dish that Sainsbury's sells, but Justin King is tasting revenge

 

Outlook Good on Justin King for dissing his rivals in his final days in the job. Like all modern day chief executives, he more usually trots out the platitudes about "we welcome competition" whenever asked about his fellow grocers.

So his valedictory sideswipes yesterday made a refreshing change, and set him up nicely with a tough-talking, as well as smooth, reputation for that next big corporate job we all expect him to land. Terry Leahy, he declared, was a short-termist, his management team knew the game was up and were just biding time until they were kicked out, and Tesco had no decent succession plan.

It seems harsh to accuse Sir Terry of failing to look to the future during his 14-year regime. After all, he opened what became giant businesses around the world – some as big as Sainsbury's is now – and extended the lead of by far the biggest supermarket chain in Britain. But, towards the end of Sir Terry's time, perhaps Mr King has a point. The UK stores were badly suffering a lack of investment, while big decisions about foreign campaigns gone wrong were unforgivably delayed. Meanwhile, the exodus of management under Philip Clarke does hint at a top team thumb twiddling until their golden farewells.

However, such departures are entirely normal when a long-serving boss quits. They're one of the main reasons investors get twitchy and share prices fall when a half-decent CEO signals his departure. So don't be surprised to see the same flurry of exits at Sainsbury under Mike Coupe.

Edison Research points out that one of Mr King's other right hooks at Tesco was a more subtle one. Boasting of how wonderful Sainsbury's customer service was, he pointed out that its shelves had "strong availability throughout the day". Edison says this is a veiled attack on Tesco, and, if you've tried shopping there on the way home from work lately, you'll know what they mean. The broker Espirito Santo has just highlighted this issue too, particularly with regards to fresh produce.

It all brings to mind a bit of research in bygone days by that much-missed City retail analyst, the late Richard Ratner. He got his underlings at stockbroker Seymour Pierce to "walk the floors" of branches of a major supermarket chain in a "mystery shopping" experiment to prove his theory that stocking at stores was in crisis. Shelves were empty – Ratty was right. For all the millions the company had invested, its logistics IT was just as risible as he'd suspected.

The identity of that grocer? A certain J Sainsbury, not long before Mr King's arrival. He was lucky that the disastrous IT system – so central to the company's gloomy times before him – was just getting fixed when he arrived. High-ups at Tesco mercilessly mocked Sainsbury's troubles at the time. Perhaps Mr King had that in mind yesterday.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam