King says he'll stay in his role for 'the long haul'
Justin King has insisted he was in for the long haul at Sainsbury's, as he unveiled another market-beating set of results in what he claims is the toughest environment for years.
With gossip again swirling that he will soon move on after nine years as chief executive, King insisted he will still be in place in a year's time.
"It is one of those slightly strange things where at some point in time people will be able to claim they are right. I don't see myself at Sainsbury's when I am 65. But I am 51. I've got some time left."
Sainsbury's reported a 6% rise in annual profit to £756m, ahead of City expectations. Sales are up 4.6% to £25.6bn, with the dividend 3.7% higher at 16.7p. The company's market share is at 16.8%, the highest for a decade.
"The context is that this was probably the toughest year in the last 20," said King, who was paid £3m last year. "We are the only one of the big five to have grown market share."
King says customers are cautious. "They have been in the same place for the last three years. There was a step change as they came out of Christmas 2010. We saw smaller weekly shops. That change has stuck. Wages are growing slower than prices, that is reality."
The supermarket said it will pay Lloyds Banking Group £248m for the 50% of Sainsbury's Bank it does not own. Former Barclays man Roger Davis is to become the chairman of the banking arm.
Sainsbury's sells products such as loans and insurance to about 1.4m people. It is likely it will copy Tesco's plans to launch current accounts once rules come in making it easier for customers to switch. It has appointed Lady Susan Rice as a non-executive. She is a senior banker at Lloyds.
Phil Dorrell of retail consultants, Retail Remedy said: "Sainsbury's is doing well because it has kept things simple."