Sainsbury’s names new retail director; Lotte founder dies

Roberts takes helm at Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s has picked retail and operations director Simon Roberts (pictured) to succeed CEO Mike Coupe, the architect of the British supermarket group’s failed bid for rival Asda who will step down in May after six years at the helm.

Roberts, a former managing director of the health and beauty retailer Boots, joined Sainsbury’s in 2017, with oversight of the logistics systems used by the company’s 1400 stores as well as online operations.

Coupe has faced questions about his future since April when Britain’s competition regulator blocked Sainsbury’s attempt to take over Walmart-owned Asda for £7.3 billion ($14 billion) and become Britain’s biggest retailer.

In recent months Coupe had instituted a program of cost cutting, paying off debt, investment in technology and further integrating the Argos general merchandise business Sainsbury’s purchased for £1.1 billion in 2016, which Roberts is expected to continue.

The company is in the process of cutting hundreds of management jobs as part of a plan to save £500 million in costs by 2024. It told Reuters that since the start of its 2019-20 financial year in March, its senior leadership team has been reduced by over 20 per cent.

Lotte founder dies at 98

The founder and patriarch of South Korea’s Lotte Corp, Shin Kyuk-ho (pictured), the billionaire tycoon who turned a chewing gum business into a sprawling corporate empire, has died in Seoul. He was 98.

CNN reports that Shin’s death marks the end of an era, as he was the last surviving founder of the great family-run companies that dominate South Korea’s economy.

His death also indicates a possible change in the fortunes for the troubled company, which has lost some 50 per cent of its value in the past three years. Investors hope that his younger son, group chairman Shin Dong-bin, will accelerate a restructuring and find a solution to some deep-seated problems, including serious disputes with China over missile systems and with Japan over trade.

Lotte’s assets include a professional baseball team, the Lotte Giants, the New York Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue, and South Korea’s tallest building, the 123-story Lotte World Tower.

In March, an arm of the company, Lotte Duty Free, began an expansion into Oceania with the ambition to be the leading operator in Australia and New Zealand by 2023.

The second-biggest travel retailer in the world, Lotte Duty Free is targeting sales of US$200 million ($291 million) in the region during its first year.

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