Sainsbury’s shares rise after supermarket denies hunting for new boss

Sainsbury’s shares have risen after the supermarket giant shrugged off reports that it is seeking to replace under-pressure boss Mike Coupe.

Shares in the retailer moved higher in early trading on Monday after it rebuffed claims that it has earmarked possible internal candidates to replace the chief executive.

Mr Coupe, who has been at the helm since 2014, has come under significant pressure from shareholders after leading the retailer’s failed merger with rival Asda.

He was overwhelmingly re-elected at the company’s annual general meeting last month but has faced persistent scrutiny since the deal was blocked by the competition watchdog.

In the report denied by Sainsbury’s, the Sunday Telegraph claimed that three internal candidates were being considered to take over the top job.

John Rogers, who currency runs Argos, Simon Roberts, director of retail and operations, and Paul Mills-Hicks, commercial director of food, were tipped as front-runners, according to the report.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “Every responsible business has potential succession plans for its CEO. This is nothing new.

“We are not talking to internal candidates about succession planning for Mike and have been clear he has the full support of shareholders and the board.”

Clive Black, analyst at broker Shore Capital, said he “struggled to see merit” in replacing Mr Coupe as chief executive.

He added: “After that corporate failure, noting under-performance of Sainsbury’s in particular through the engagement process, Sainsbury’s is back focused upon the day job, necessarily, and we sense that progress is being made in stabilising deteriorating store standards whilst work continues on its price file.”

Shares in the company were 4.2% higher at 190.2p on Monday morning.

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