Supermarket boss vows to stay on

Sainsbury's boss Justin King has committed his future to the retailer as it unveiled an eighth successive year of profits growth under his stewardship.

Mr King played down reports that he was poised to step down nine years on from taking over during a turbulent period for the supermarket, instead comparing his tenure as chief executive to the 26-year stint of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
He said the business had enjoyed a "year like no other" as underlying profits to March rose 6.2% to £756 million, a period when it also sponsored the Paralympics and events to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

But tough economic conditions saw like-for-like sales growth come in below target and an even smaller figure pencilled in for the year ahead. Meanwhile, bottom-line pre-tax profits were down 1.4% to £788 million, reflecting fewer property disposals.

Markets reacted nervously to the results, with analysts also jittery about the decision to buy the 50% stake in Sainsbury's Bank held by Lloyds Banking Group for £248 million - fearing that while sensible it may add risk over the transition period.

But Mr King was bullish about the future. He has been the subject of speculation that he may be tempted away to become boss of Formula One but instead he compared himself to the long-serving Sir Alex.

"He demonstrates clearly what is possible. I am committed to Sainsbury's. It is very clear that the business has an exciting future and I intend to play my part in that," he said.

Mr King added: "Whilst we see no near-term change in the current economic situation, we remain confident that by continuing to invest in our long-standing strategy and by understanding and helping our customers, we are well positioned for future growth."

Total sales at Sainsbury's rose 4.6% to £25.6 billion, driven by 33 successive quarters of like-for-like sales growth and strong performance from non-food products, online grocery sales and new, smaller, convenience stores.

Recent figures showed the retailer had outperformed competitors and achieved a 16.8% market share, its highest for a decade. Mr King said sales were expected to grow at 1% ahead of the market, but with a flat performance forecast for the sector, this equated to an increase of just 1%-1.5% for 2013/14.

The Sunday Times rich list 2013
See Gallery
Supermarket boss vows to stay on

The 59-year-old billionaire has an almost 30% stake in Arsenal Football club and tops the list with an estimated worth of £13.3 billion.

Blavatnik's wealth rose from £3.4 billion last year to £11 billion in 2013 making him the biggest climber. He owns Warner Music and received £2 billion in April for his stake in TNK-BP.

Indian tycoons Sri and his brother Gopi Hinduja have a wealth of £10.6 billion from the industry and finance sector. The brothers made their fortune from their family firm Hinduja Group, a textile and trading exporter founded by their father in 1914.

Mittal spent eight years at the top of the rich list but slipped down to fourth place this year when the 40% stake he holds with his wife Usha in steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal plummeted from £28 billion to £5.95 billion.

With wealth totalling £9.3 billion, Roman Abramovich is most famous for buying Chelsea FC. A £200 million drop in his fortune lowers Abramovich from third to fourth spot.

Although largely unknown in Britain, 68-year-old Fredriksen is notorious in his native Norway as owner of the world's largest fleet of oil tankers. Once Norway's richest man and now a Cypriot national, the high-school dropout's companies are major players in shipping, offshore drilling and seafood.

The British-born billionaires, the Reuben brothers, are best-known for their vast UK property empire, which includes the John Lewis Partnership's headquarters in London's Victoria.

The Duke of Westminster is the second-highest ranked British billionaire and is worth an estimated £7.8 billion. He owns property group Grosvenor Estates, and half of London's Mayfair and Belgravia, as well as vast portions of the UK and Scotland.

With no change to their wealth this year, the Bertarellis are worth £7.4 billion. Born Kirsty Roper in 1971 into the Churchill China dynasty, 41-year-old Kirsty was a model and wrote the All Saints worldwide hit 'Black Coffee'.

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken inherited a huge stake in Heineken, the world's third-largest brewer on the death of her father Freddy Heineken in 2002. Michel is an investment banker, former Olympic skier and toboganner, and and actor who appeared in the desert epic 'Lawrence of Arabia.'

Read Full Story