Coupe leaves Sainsbury’s dreaming of what-ifs around Asda merger, says GlobalData

Following the announcement that Sainsbury’s Mike Coupe will be replaced by Simon Roberts;

Patrick O’Brien, Retail Research Director at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“The replacement of Coupe with Simon Roberts appears to be an entirely amicable change, but the failure of Coupe’s attempt to merge the supermarket with Asda last year did seem to be the beginning of the end of his time there.

“Coupe’s misjudgement of the mood of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be something he will be remembered for – it was not only an expensive folly, but during the investigation the board took its eye off execution, with product availability issues becoming very visible.

“Coupe will no doubt be wondering what might have been – Sainsbury’s would have overtaken Tesco as the market leader, and its stated plans to use its increased buying power to slash prices would have shaken an already highly competitive market.

“Coupe joined at a time when arch rival Tesco was on the ropes (poor sales and a damaging accounting investigation), but the emergence of Aldi and Lidl meant that Sainsbury’s was not in a position to take full advantage. While Sainsbury’s market share fell during his stint, it is important to note that its decline was less pronounced than any of its Big 4 rivals (0.6ppts between 2013 and 2019, compared to Tesco 2.0ppts, Morrisons 1.7ppts and Asda 1.1ppts).”

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