UK's Sainsbury's promotes online boss to operating board

LONDON Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:04am EST

LONDON Feb 27 (Reuters) - British grocer J Sainsbury has promoted online boss Jon Rudoe to its operating board - effectively the first major appointment made as chief executive designate Mike Coupe prepares to take over from Justin King.

Sainsbury's said in January that Coupe, the current commercial director, will succeed King as chief executive when King steps down in July after a decade at the helm.

The retailer said on Thursday that 35-year-old Rudoe, currently director of online, digital and cross-channel and a former executive of online grocer Ocado, would join the operating board as digital and technology director.

His promotion reflects the rapidly growing importance of online and digital sales channels to Sainsbury's, which has grown its online groceries operation into an over 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) business.

Sainsbury's is vying with Wal-Mart's Asda to be Britain's second biggest grocer behind market leader Tesco .

On Tuesday Tesco updated on its strategy for its key home market. It has a strong emphasis on accelerating investment in online channels.

Rudoe's new role at Sainsbury's will incorporate the responsibilities of IT director Rob Fraser, who is leaving the business in March.

Sainsbury's added that property director Neil Sachdev would step down next month after seven years in the business.