J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) boss Mike Coupe confirmed on Wednesday that he is retiring from the grocer, nine months after his big plans for a merger with Asda blew up.

Coupe, whose six years as chief executive of the supermarkets group included Sainsbury’s acquisitions of Argos and Nectar and the sale of its pharmacy business, will step down from the role on 1 June and leave the company at the annual shareholder meeting on 2 July.

READ: Sainsbury’s statutory interim profits fall 92%

Simon Roberts, currently the grocer’s retail and operations director, has been selected to be the new CEO.

Chairman Martin Scicluna said Coupe had been “bold and ambitious on behalf of our shareholders, customers and our colleagues”, although he had lost the confidence of half of investors according to a poll by investment manager Alliance Bernstein late last year.

This was after Coupe’s grand plan for a £7bn Sainsbury’s merger with Asda was blocked by the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

At last year’s AGM he got a tongue-lashing from some investors over the group’s recent lacklustre performance and was attacked by shareholder groups over his “excessive” pay.

Focusing on Roberts, who joined in 2017 after 15 years at Marks & Spencer and 13 years at Boots, Scicluna said he had been “extremely effective” in his role so far, highlighting that he had “overseen sustained improvements in our competitiveness”.

Roberts for his part emphasised the company’s staff working “to become one multi-brand, multi-channel business”.

In afternoon trading, Sainsbury’s shares were 2.3% lower at 207.50p.

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