Photo City Food and Drink Lecture

Sainsbury’s CEO selected to be keynote speaker at City Food & Drink Lecture

Produce Business edited news release

Simon Roberts, chief executive officer at Sainsbury’s, will headline the 2024 City Food & Drink Lecture at London’s Guildhall as its keynote speaker.

The event, which for more than two decades has brought together some 700 industry leaders from food, drink and agriculture, will take place on Monday 11th March.

Roberts joined the retailer at one of the most pivotal moments in recent history – the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020 – and has led Sainsbury’s through the transition. Under his leadership, the supermarket launched its Plan for Better programme and has promised to achieve Net Zero in its own operations by 2035. Sainsbury’s has also made significant investments in colleague pay, leading the industry in adopting the Living Wage nationwide. 

“I am honoured to be speaking at this prestigious event which has built a reputation for insightful thought leadership addressing key issues in the UK food and drink sector,” he said. “The food industry has never been a more dynamic place to be, with economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological forces all driving fast and constant innovation and change.

“At Sainsbury’s, ‘good food’, in all senses, from nutrition and quality to price and provenance, is right at the heart of our business and continues to drive everything we stand for. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on how we can work together as an industry to build a resilient, integrated food system and better, healthier world around us, protecting ‘good food’ for generations to come.”

Prior to becoming CEO, Roberts was the chain’s Retail & Operations Director and has more than 30 years’ experience, including stints at Marks and Spencer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and as President of Boots UK and Ireland. In addition to his role with Sainsbury’s, he is a member of the CR&S Committee, supporting inclusion on the Operating Board.

“With his extensive expertise in the retail sector and ongoing commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, Simon is aligned strongly with this prestigious event,” said Allan Wilkinson, Chair of the City Food & Drink Lecture. “We look forward to welcoming him to the lecture’s line-up of past keynote speakers, which has consistently drawn high-calibre attendees since the series began in 2001, securing itself as an evening of insight and inspiration for the food and beverage industry.”

The Lecture is organised jointly by eight of the City of London livery companies: the Worshipful Companies of Bakers, Butchers, Cooks, Distillers, Farmers, Fishmongers, Fruiterers and Poulters. Among the sponsors and key supporters of the event are: Rathbone Investment Management, ABP, Agri – EPI Centre, Anpario, Compass Group UK & Ireland, Driscoll’s, Davy’s Wine Merchant, Eden Search, HSBC, New England Sea Food International (NESI), Noble Foods, OrchardWorld, Roythornes, Saffery LLP, Fresh Produce Journal and Sunny Side Up Communications.



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