Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King has denied he plans to quit the grocer after speculation his successor is being lined up.
King has quashed rumours he may quit the retailer to replace Bernie Ecclestone as the chief executive of Formula One or lead Marks & Spencer.
He told Sky News: “I am not planning on going anywhere. I see myself staying at Sainsbury’s.”
His comments follow press reports that executive search firm Egon Zehnder, long-term advisor to Sainsbury’s, has been instructed by chairman David Tyler to find an eventual replacement for King.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “This is pure speculation. Justin has made his commitment to the business clear and is excited about the opportunities to grow and develop it. Any discussion of succession is totally premature.”
Sainsbury’s group commercial director Mike Coupe remains the favourite to eventually succeed King. However it has been suggested Coles boss Ian McLeod, outgoing WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann or Tesco UK managing director Chris Bush could also be in the running.
Justin King’s son Jordan is a Formula Three racing driving and is said to have Formula One ambitions but King said of the top job in the sport: “I am not aware there is a vacancy.”
King said of the chief executive position at Marks & Spencer: “I cannot see any reason why I would go to that business.” Former Morrisons boss Marc Bolland has been boss of M&S, where King was previously director of food, since 2010 however underperformance in fashion has put him under pressure.
It is understood King does not plan to quit before his 10-year anniversary in the post in 2014. Sainsbury’s will reveal its full-year results on May 8 when it is expected to report its eighth consecutive year of profits growth.