Sainsbury’s has unveiled a host of changes to its operating board, the most notable being the departure of general merchandise commercial director Paula Nickolds.

Paula Nickolds

Paula Nickolds will join The White Company as chief executive

The grocer said Nickolds had decided to leave the business to take over the role of chief executive at The White Company, starting at the end of March.

Sainsbury’s said: “Over the past three years, Paula has led much progress across our Brands that Deliver strategy, making Argos, Habitat and Tu considerably stronger and more competitive than pre-pandemic, and she leaves a strong team in place.”

Nickolds will be replaced by Graham Biggart, who is currently chief transformation officer at the retailer.

Biggart will take on commercial responsibility for general merchandise and clothing across Sainsbury’s and Argos, while Matt Leeser will take on an expanded role as general merchandise commercial director.

Food commercial director Rhian Bartlett has also been promoted to chief food commercial officer, charged with leading on the retailer’s ongoing acceleration of its Food First strategy.

Sainsbury’s also announced that Tim Fallowfield has decided to retire from his role as company secretary and corporate services director at the retailer’s AGM in July, after more than 22 years at the business.

The retailer also said it would be winding down its banking and financial services arm following the completion of a strategic review.

As a result, Sainsbury’s Bank chief executive Jim Brown has decided to retire, with Robert Mulhall announced as his successor, joining from Allied Irish Bank where up until 2022 he was chief executive.

Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive, said: “As we look ahead to the next phase of our strategy, I’m pleased to confirm this new structure for our operating board, which will help us become even more focused and further accelerate our transformation and performance.

“I would like to thank Jim, Paula and Tim, who have each made an outstanding contribution to the success of Sainsbury’s, and we wish them all the very best for the future. I look forward to sharing more on the next phase of our plan at our forthcoming strategy update, building on all we’ve done to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s.

“It’s business as usual for now at Sainsbury’s Bank and there will be no immediate changes to products and services as a result of today’s announcement. We will, of course, communicate directly to customers well in advance of any changes to their products and services.”