The appointment of Martin Scicluna as its new chairman feels like a safe play from Sainsbury’s.
Scicluna will officially take over as chairman in March 2019, following a five-month handover period with outgoing chairman David Tyler during which time he will sit on the board as chairman-designate and non-executive director.
Scicluna does not have any significant connection to the retail sector but he is highly respected in City circles and boasts a wealth of boardroom experience.
He currently serves as chairman both of RSA Insurance Group, which owns the More Than brand, and of property investor Great Portland Estates and spent the bulk of his career as a partner, and latterly chairman, of Deloitte.
Regarded as extremely loyal to the businesses he serves, Scicluna is known for his ability to turn around business performance; and while Sainsbury’s is far from a turnaround job, the business is certainly facing some significant challenges.
Top of the agenda for Scicluna in the immediate term will be the approval of the retailer’s mega-merger with Asda, but his chairmanship will also be shaped by how Sainsbury’s navigates the seismic changes that are happening within the retail sector at the moment as well as the eventual fallout from Brexit (food supply chains are most in peril from a ‘no deal’ outcome).
As a huge Arsenal fan, Scicluna is used to competing as part of a ‘big four’ (until recently at least), but if the Asda deal goes ahead the combined entity will leapfrog Tesco into the number one spot in grocery retail, making Scicluna one of the most influential chairs in UK business.
Finally, I’d like to send my best wishes for a speedy recovery to Charles Wilson after he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Such news not only puts our own work lives into perspective, but the sincere reaction to it by so many industry colleagues shows the great respect and solidarity that exists within our sector.