Sainsbury's boss attacks Coalition
Filed under: Investing
His comments have been echoed by other business leaders following a Queen's Speech notable for its lack of focus on growth measures. But does he have real reason to complain?
"Consistency is what gives confidence," said King, quoted in the Telegraph. "Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past couple of years is something that could not be described as a consistent pursuit of a clear policy that the consumer at large understands, whether that is a consistent tax environment, or a consistent rates environment."
But Sainsbury's sales are on the up. Market share is on the rise and total sales hit an almost 7% rise to £24.5bn, the grocer announced this week. What is almost certainly irking King is the decision to introduce a new ombudsman 'adjudicator' that will - it's claimed - name and shame supermarkets that bully or treat its suppliers unfairly.
Spend to mendElsewhere, King is expanding heavily with new convenience stores on the high street. But King is certainly right on the lack of bold action for growth, so far clearly elusive. Cameron claims he won't back down on austerity. But there's pressure on several sides. Even from across the Channel, with a new French President about to open the spending taps.
(Ed Miliband is apparently keen to work with Hollande, and believes there's been a shift in mood from UK voters, increasingly skeptical of The Age of Austeria).
Confidence dropUK consumer confidence, despite Sainsbury's recent success, remains muted. Nationwide's monthly consumer confidence index slipped to 44 in April from 53 in March. The sharpest fall was in consumer spending as many reined in on major purchases. Worse, those questioned anticipated that their household income will be lower in six months time.
"The index has consistently remained well below its long‐run average, signalling ongoing caution on the part of U.K. consumers," said Nationwide.
Influence?Justin King's comments, then, will make for an interesting next meeting with Cameron - King is on Cameron's advisory big hitter committee (a committee that includes ad man Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir James Dyson) which discusses issues on business and the economy.
Gordon Brown, Justin King should note, had a similar arrangement with Sir Richard Branson and ex Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, amongst others. It wasn't thought terribly effective.