Sainsbury’s blindsided everybody last week when it unveiled a joint venture with Netto to bring the Danish discounter back to the UK just four years after it sold its stores here to Asda.
Per Bank, the former Tesco man who is now chief executive of Netto parent Dansk Supermarked, portrayed the link-up as a retail marriage made in heaven.
“No one knows British customers better than Sainsbury’s and nobody knows discounting better than Netto,” he maintained.
While the enterprise will begin modestly, with 15 stores by the end of next year, there will be much riding on its success for Mike Coupe who takes over from Justin King as Sainsbury’s chief executive next month.
JS and Netto had been talking for about a year. Coupe said that King played an important role but “I have my name on it”.
The rationale for the tie-up makes sense. Exposure to discounting allows JS to win custom from some consumers who don’t shop with it and to maintain a retail relationship with some of its customers who are now opting for value first and foremost.
While Coupe is seen as a safe pair of hands, the deal with Netto also indicates that there will be fresh thinking under his leadership.