Sainsbury’s has announced that Dorridge-born chief executive Justin King is to leave the supermarket chain in July.
He will have been at the helm of the company for 10 years.
The move, which ends months of speculation about his departure, will see commercial director Mike Coupe take over the post.
Mr King has been credited with reviving the fortunes of the supermarket and more recently helping it fight off growing pressure on the sector from discount retailers. He will leave the company after the annual general meeting on July 9
Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler said Mr King was “a truly exceptional leade."
Mr Tyler added: “Justin is a truly exceptional leader who has reshaped Sainsbury’s during his 10 years as CEO, as well as playing a leading role in the sector and wider business world.
“He leaves a lasting legacy with the company stronger than ever.”
Mr King, 53, said: “This was not an easy decision for me to make, and in truth it will never feel like the right time to leave a company like Sainsbury’s.
“It has been a privilege to have led the company for the past 10 years and I am incredibly proud of our achievements in that time. I am confident that under Mike’s leadership the business will go from strength to strength.
“It is the 157,000 colleagues that make Sainsbury’s so special and I would like to thank them for their amazing efforts over the last decade in making Sainsbury’s great again.”
He has not indicated what he will do when he steps down.
Mr Tyler said Mr King’s successor was a man of “unique talent and experience”.
“He has worked hand-in-hand with Justin over the past decade and has a proven track record of success, making him the natural choice to take the company forward.”
Mr Coupe said: “It’s an absolute honour to be appointed as the new CEO of Sainsbury’s in this, the company’s 145th year, at a time when thanks to Justin’s leadership, we have been consistently outperforming the market.” the company said in a statement.
Mr King was previously director of food at Marks and Spencer and has held senior positions at Asda. The son of a petrochemical company salesman, he was schooled at Tudor Grange School in Solihull. He now lives in Harbury, near Leamington Spa.
He undertook a degree in Business Administration at the University of Bath, graduating in 1983 and in 2009 he was also awarded an Honorary DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) from the university,