He intends to stay in his role until the end of May and will be replaced by Simon Roberts, the group’s retail and operations director.
Coupe attempted to expand Sainsbury’s offering through acquisitions, notably Argos and Habitat, but he also pushed through heavy cost-cutting in staffing and management functions. There was also the failed mega-merger with arch-rival Asda – blocked by competition officials.
John Colley, associate dean at Warwick Business School, said: “Unfortunately the departure of Mike Coupe has been coming for some time, since the failed merger of Asda and Sainsbury’s.
“Despite Mike’s protestations to the contrary, the referral to the Competition and Markets Authority was a major distraction for the management at Sainsbury’s. During that period they lost market share and had few initiatives to defend their market position.”
Coupe has agreed to waive any future bonuses, but he will still receive his bonus for the coming year alongside a proportion of his £962,000 base salary until he leaves. Roberts will have a lower base salary of £875,000.
Chairman Martin Scicluna said: “Mike has been bold and ambitious on behalf of our shareholders, customers and our colleagues. Investing heavily in convenience, online and our digital capability, selling Sainsbury’s pharmacy business and acquiring Argos and Nectar have all been sound strategic moves.”