He will take up the post early next year, replacing Adam Fowle who has decided to pursue a career in the leisure industry. Fowle has agreed to stay at Sainsbury's until the end of the year to oversee Christmas trading.
McMeikan has worked at Tesco for 14 years and had been in line to take over the top job at Tesco's Japanese division from Scott Wheway. The highlight of McMeikan's career was leading the acquisition of convenience chain Adminstore and its integration into the Tesco estate.
Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said: 'I am delighted that Ken will be joining. His excellent retail experience and understanding of our market will be a great asset to the company's new management team.'