Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King and chairman David Tyler today brushed off speculation about King’s future at the grocer amid rumours that the company has hired headhunters to search for his replacement.

King said: “I am committed to Sainsbury’s, its future prospects are great and I intend to play my part in its future.”

Tyler would not comment on whether headhunters had been appointed but said: “We have a cracking CEO and management team and it is my job to look after that and develop it for the future.”

He added: “Justin is doing a cracking job and would have to persuade me hard if he wanted to leave at any stage.”