Sainsbury's chairman Philip Hampton opened his annual meeting yesterday with a resounding declaration of confidence in his chief executive, Justin King.
He described Mr King and his managers as "the right people", doing "the right things".
"We believe the plan outlined last October is exactly the right way to return Sainsbury's to long-term profitability," Mr Hampton declared.
Going back to the basics of the brand, offering customers outstanding food and great value for money, were a key part of Sainsbury's strategy. By rebuilding the business around this principle, the company would be able to create long-term shareholder value, he told the meeting.
"When I started at Sainsbury's, the first priority was the stabilisation of the company to enable Justin and his team to concentrate on running the business well," Mr Hampton added.
Mr Hampton then stressed the importance of a new incentive scheme for managers firmly tied to growth of both sales and profits.
"There is no point in having great plans if you cannot make them work, " he told shareholders.
Directors had consulted widely on the design of a new incentive scheme, and opted for one that covers 1,000 executives, including the managers of all Sainsbury supermarkets.
"Everyone will be judged by the same strict and stretching criteria," he emphasised.
"The maximum level of payout will only be achieved if the management team delivers a level of growth not seen at Sainsbury's for more than a decade. Clearly if this is achieved it will also be good news for all shareholders.
"There will be no payments for failure. If profits and sales do not grow, the incentives are worthless. Your board sees this scheme as an integral part of our recovery." n Bakery group Inter Link Foods said a rush of orders for mince pies at Christmas had fuelled hopes for a seventh straight year of record results.
The Blackburn-based group posted an 18 per cent rise in pretax profits to £5.9 million for the year to May 7 and raised hopes of further progress by revealing that its festive order book was already "well ahead" of 2004. Likefor-like sales have risen by 9.1 per cent since the year end.
Inter Link moved into second place in the UK cake market in January by sealing a £12.25 million for Yorkshire Cottage Bakeries, which has two factories in Bradford and one in Manchester.
The deal ensured it overtook quoted rival Northern Foods, although it is still some way behind Mr Kipling owner Manor Bakeries, which has 31 per cent of the market. Turnover was 40.9 per cent higher than a year ago at £98.1 million and brokers predict sales could rise to £137 million.