Lord Sainsbury praises Justin King as he bows out after 10 years

And supermarket giant also taunts rival Tesco over succession plans

Sainsbury’s life-president, Lord Sainsbury, made a rare public appearance to lead the tributes to Justin King, the supermarket’s outgoing chief executive, whose 10 years at the helm came to an end.

The 86-year-old great grandson of Sainsbury’s founders, and chairman of the firm for 23 years, said: “I’d like to congratulate him on his achievements, hard work and inspiration on turning Sainsbury’s around and making it great again. Thank you, Justin.”

He was joined by Sainsbury’s chairman, David Tyler, who told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting how Mr King steered the group through the financial crisis.

The meeting passed off with few incidents and the usual range of bizarre questions, including one shareholder asking how many ducks are thrown away by the supermarket; another wanted to know why the age of the board members was not in the annual report.

Other more serious questions raised included asking the company whether it would introduce the living wage, stop displaying tabloid newspapers with Page 3 girls, and end the use of suppliers who operate from the West Bank – an issue highlighted by several protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.

But Mr King’s imminent departure overshadowed much of the meeting.

Mr Tyler said: “So, what has Justin’s leadership meant for us, the shareholders? Well, it has meant over £10bn in incremental sales, and a return to healthy, sustainable profits.  It has also meant a total shareholder return of 85 per cent over the past 10 years, and this at a time when the protracted financial crisis, from which we are only now emerging, played havoc with consumer confidence and share prices in the sector.”

Mr Tyler also made a veiled attack on Tesco, by pointing out Mr King had left a strong management team in place from internal appointments, unlike its larger rival when Sir Terry Leahy quit after 14 years as the boss.

Several shareholders also thanked Mr King, with some asking him to stay. Another shareholder said: “I was at the M&S AGM yesterday and I was wondering if Justin could come and fix it for us?”

During the meeting, Mike Coupe, who is taking over from Mr King, revealed that he plans to follow many of the ideas pursued by his predecessor, and at several points throughout the meeting Mr King appeared to answer questions on behalf of his successor.

On his time with Mr King, the new chief executive said: “It is an honour and privilege to take over the leadership of the company you have led with such courage and inspiration over the past 10 years.”

But along his words of  praise, Mr Coupe warned he expected his time at the top will see customers’ habits change even faster than previously, and neither he nor Mr Tyler addressed how they plan to reverse the past six months of falling sales.

Mr Tyler revealed that a new joint venture with Danish firm Dansk, to return Netto to the high street in an attempt to challenge the dominance of discounters Aldi and Lidl, will mean 15 stores are to open by the end of next year.

“The first 15 stores will open in the north of England by the end of 2015 and will offer customers a strong value proposition with a focus on fresh foods and with a distinct Scandinavian twist,” Mr Tyler said. The company had previously committed to only five stores opening by the end of 2014.

Once the meeting ended, dozens of shareholders rushed to the stage to thank Mr King personally, posing for photos and selfies and asking for autographs.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album