Justin King (businessman)

Justin Matthew King, CBE (born 17 May 1961) is an English businessman. King served as the CEO of J Sainsbury plc, parent company of the supermarket chain Sainsbury's, for ten years before stepping down in July 2014.[1]

Justin King
Born (1961-05-17) 17 May 1961 (age 61)
London, England[citation needed]
EducationTudor Grange Grammar School
Alma materSolihull Sixth Form College
University of Bath
Years active1983–present
TitleFormer CEO of J Sainsbury plc
PredecessorSir Peter Davis
SuccessorMike Coupe

King was previously Director of Food at Marks and Spencer and has held senior positions at Asda. King was involved in the introduction of Häagen-Dazs ice cream to the UK and has worked for Pepsi-Cola International and Mars.

Early lifeEdit

Raised in Dorridge just outside Solihull, the son of a petrochemical company salesman, he was schooled at Tudor Grange Grammar School (grammar school which became a comprehensive whilst he attended) in Solihull.[2]

King undertook a degree in Business Administration at the University of Bath, graduating in 1983.[3]

In 2009 he was also awarded an Honorary DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) from the University of Bath.[4][5]


After graduating, King went to work for Mars, becoming production shift manager on Galaxy chocolate.[6]

King joined PepsiCo from 1989 being based in the Middle East, then moved to Grand Metropolitan in 1990, where he helped launch Häagen-Dazs ice-cream in the UK as managing director.[6] He moved to Asda in 1994 and became managing director of the hypermarkets division. King moved to Marks & Spencer in 2001, where he managed the M & S food division.


King joined Sainsbury's on 29 March 2004,[7] and was seen as the company's last chance to win back market share from its rivals and remain independent – the previous CEO, Sir Peter Davis, failed to halt the supermarket's slide in market position despite a £3 billion investment in infrastructure. He was offered £675,000 a year salary. King's annual salary at Sainsbury's was £900,000, coupled with a bonus package between £3-£6million annually.[8]

Shortly after joining Sainsbury's, King authorised the removal of the Colleague Christmas Bonus award. The Guardian reported: "The new chief executive of ailing supermarket chain J Sainsbury ran into his first controversy yesterday as it emerged that he has been awarded free shares worth more than £500,000 in the same week as he has axed the £100 Christmas bonus paid to staff."[9] The removal of the bonus was a contentious issue, given its consistent payment for 25 years and also given that this was the year Sir Peter Davis received disputed bonus payments.[9]

In October 2004 King launched his recovery programme for the company under the banner "Making Sainsbury's Great Again".[10] In January 2008 Sainsbury's announced twelve consecutive quarters of sales growth and achieved its target to grow sales by £2.5 billion, 3 months ahead of schedule.[11]

In September 2005 in an interview with The Guardian King discussed the dominance of principal rival Tesco. While steering clear of calls for a Competition Commission inquiry into the No.1 UK supermarket, King did call for changes in planning laws to prevent Tesco from achieving a 40% market share. As of 2005 Tesco had more potential development projects than that of Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons combined. King also criticised Tesco CEO Terry Leahy for questioning the accuracy of Taylor Nelson Sofres market data. Leahy has argued that TNS overestimates the size of his company's market share.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to the retail industry.[12]

King announced in January 2014 that he would be leaving his post as CEO in July 2014, with the company's Group Commercial Director Mike Coupe being announced as his successor.[13]

Manor RacingEdit

In March 2015, King was appointed interim chairman of the Manor Marussia F1 Team later Manor Racing.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

He lives in the village of Harbury, just south of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. A self-admitted petrol-head, King traded his Maserati Quattroporte for a Lexus LS600h L in March 2008 on environmental grounds.[15]

King is an ambassador for The Scout Association.[16] In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University.[17][18]

In April 2011, King gave half his shares in Sainsbury's to his wife Claire for "financial planning purposes".[19] She divorced him three months later, after 21 years of marriage.[citation needed]

Their son Jordan King is a racing driver, who competed in Formula Three[20] and in Formula 2 until moving to the IndyCar Series for 2018.


  1. ^ James Davey (29 January 2014). "Sainsbury's CEO Justin King to step down in July". Reuters.
  2. ^ Finch, Julia (27 March 2009). "Sainsbury's chief of staff Justin King wears his service medal with pride". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  3. ^ University of Bath – School of Management – Page Title Archived 18 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "'Whatever you do, it should be something you enjoy'". Times Higher Education (THE). 5 September 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  5. ^ Gibbons, Brett (29 January 2014). "Sainsbury's announces Dorridge-born CEO Justin King to leave supermarket". birminghampost. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b "WTM 2014 To Be Opened By Retailing Royalty Justin King | WTM Insights". news.wtm.com. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Sainsbury poaches M&S food boss". BBC News. 19 November 2003. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. ^ White, Garry (10 June 2009). "Justin King receives £5m package". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  9. ^ a b Finch, Julia (22 May 2004). "Business: Sainsburys chief gets £1/2 m as he cuts staffs Christmas bonus". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  10. ^ "Sainsbury's heads back to basics". BBC News. 19 October 2004. Retrieved 30 March 2007.
  11. ^ Couch, Angharad (28 March 2007). "Sainsbury Sales Gain on Healthy Foods, Store Overhaul (Update 4)". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 30 March 2007.
  12. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 8.
  13. ^ "Sainsbury Appoints Mike Coupe As CEO, Replacing Justin King – Quick Facts". NASDAQ. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Manor Marusia set for Melbourne F1 Grand Prix under new owner Stephen Fitzpatrick". ABC News. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  15. ^ Madslien, Jorn (16 March 2008). "Lexus hybrid woos Sainsbury's chief". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  16. ^ "Scouting Ambassadors". Scouts.org.uk. 2010.
  17. ^ "Honorary Doctorate for Sainsbury's CEO". Bourenemouth University. 22 November 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  18. ^ "'Doc Martin' awarded a doctorate". 9 November 2007. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  19. ^ Goodley, Simon (4 April 2011). "Sainsbury's boss gives half his £4m stake in supermarket group to his wife". The Guardian. London.
  20. ^ White, Anna (5 February 2012). "Dashwood: Teen spirit drives Formula One ambition for the three Kings". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 February 2012. Jordan King, son of J Sainsbury chief executive Justin


  • Guardian Unlimited. Sainsbury's chief opens up a new front in the store wars Retrieved 26 September 2005
  • BBC Business Online. Sainsbury's 'us and them' bonuses reported 21 May 2004
  • Guardian Unlimited. Sainsbury's chief gets £0.5m as he cuts staff's Christmas bonus reported 22 May 2004

External linksEdit

News itemsEdit

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Business positions
Preceded by CEO of Sainsbury's
Succeeded by