The future of retail and of Brexit Britain – Justin King Interview

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The ex-CEO of Sainsbury’s and current Vice Chairman of Terra Firma spent an hour in conversation with Jericho partner Matthew Gwyther. One of Britain’s most thoughtful business leaders, King talks frankly about the state of UK retail, the plight of the high street, the difference between running a FTSE 100 company and being in private equity, the problem of taxing Big Tech and how he went from being a salesman with a sample suitcase full of Haagen Dazs to one of the UK’s Most Admired business leaders.  What he’d have done if he’d become the supremo in Formula 1 and the ups and downs of working alongside the controversial private equity supremo Guy Hands.

The interview is divided into two separate podcasts in which he deals with the following questions:

Part One:

  • Are you glad you’re not running a supermarket now?
  • What would you do at the moment, you must have thought about things you’d change?
  • Do you think what’s going on in the high street is uniquely difficult or is it cyclical?
  • How did you know that Tesco was running too hot?
  • What about booking sales before they happen?
  • Did they have a particular bullying culture at Tesco?
  • How much did it annoy you that they were so much bigger than you and you couldn’t catch them?
  • What can be done with M&S, is it saveable?
  • You’re not convinced by Ocado and delivery, tell me why it doesn’t work for you?

Part Two:

  • What’s the difference between leading a FTSE100 and being a boss of a private equity firm, and which bits do you like of the former and latter?
  • Private Equity doesn’t help itself. Well-read readers of the FT might understand its benefits but I don’t think it’s done a very good job of selling itself to the broader public as a way of running businesses has it?
  • What’s Guy Hands like to work with?
  • Do you fight and who becomes between you when you do?
  • Tell us your ideas about increasing VAT and cutting business rates?
  • George Osborne and the minimum wage
  • Brexit –  how will it pan out?


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