Retail executive Justin King to team up with Sir Keith Mills and Sazka Group on bid to refresh and revitalise The National Lottery

15 January 2021

Mr. King will work closely with Sir Keith Mills and the SAZKA team on retail strategy and how the National Lottery can play an integral role in the revitalisation of the high street and local retail post-COVID-19. The team will draw on his expertise to improve the customer experience, support independent retailers and expand the National Lottery’s product and marketing portfolio.

If SAZKA Group is awarded the licence, it would mark the first change in operator since The National Lottery’s inception in 1994. Mr. King's role announced today includes him advising SAZKA Group's transition plans and, should SAZKA be awarded the Fourth Licence, leading the transition team in order to guarantee business continuity.

One of Britain’s preeminent retail figures, Mr. King brings a wealth of experience from leading some of Britain’s most distinguished retail brands. After serving in senior roles for ASDA and Marks & Spencer, King joined Sainsbury’s as CEO in 2004 during a difficult period for the supermarket giant. However, his reforms overhauled the company and produced thirty-six consecutive quarters of sales growth and profit. In addition to this, Mr. King is credited with developing Sainsbury’s partnership with Comic Relief, where the company raised £1 of every £10 donated to the charity. In recognition of his services to the retail sector, Justin was awarded a CBE in 2011.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr. King said: “Getting people back to their local high street post Covid-19 requires fresh thinking, an innovative approach, and recognition that the National Lottery can play an integral role in that recovery. I’m teaming up with SAZKA Group to make the National Lottery better. We need to revitalise this precious institution by bringing back those customers that have stopped playing, while making it relevant and exciting for new audiences too. A vibrant and growing lottery is the only way to guarantee more funding for good causes, which is crucial for helping Britain to build back better”.

SAZKA Group’s UK Bid Chair Sir Keith Mills added: “Justin King is one of the UK’s leading experts in the retail sector. He has a track record of turning around businesses, which will only strengthen our efforts to make the British public fall back in love with the National Lottery. With Justin on board, we will present a plan that modernises retail channels to ensure that not a single National Lottery player or retailer is left behind. Justin’s experience will also be of huge benefit for our transition plans which must be submitted to the Gambling Commission as part of our bid. Over the next few weeks, I look forward to welcoming more experts to our team, who will help us to share our vision for the National Lottery as the Fourth Licence Competition progresses.”

About Justin King CBE

Justin King has been a leader in customer-facing businesses for over three decades. He has served in many senior roles at leading companies, including Sainsbury's, M&S, Asda, Häagen-Dazs, PepsiCo and Mars. An influential businessman in the retail industry, Justin is credited for having turned Sainsbury’s around.

As an advocate for responsible business, Justin was influential in establishing the retailer’s long-standing relationship with Comic Relief. In addition, Justin was instrumental in pioneering the company’s sponsorship of the Paralympic Games.

Justin is Vice Chairman and Senior Adviser at Terra Firma and serves as Non-Executive Director on its portfolio companies Annington and EverPower. He led the sale of Wyevale Garden Centres and brighterkind, both Terra Firma companies. He is a Non-Executive Director of M&S and serves on PWC’s Public Interest Body. He is a Senior Advisor to Atrato, Investment Adviser to Supermarket Income REIT (SUPR). He was also a Member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.

To recognise his services to the retail industry, Justin was awarded a CBE in HM The Queen’s New Year Honours List 2011 and in 2013, was named Most Admired Business Leader by Management Today. Justin launched Made by Sport in 2019, a charity that champions the power of sport to transform young lives.

About SAZKA Group

SAZKA Group is a national lottery, instant lottery and digital gaming operator, with trusted brands and industry-leading technology delivering over €17bn in annual sales. Established in 2012, SAZKA Group is already one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing lottery companies and our strong performance across our markets is helping to fund good causes in the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, and Italy.

Since entering the lottery market in 2012, SAZKA Group has quickly expanded from the Czech Republic into four other European markets. SAZKA Group has consistently taken on established lotteries and made them better, while also expanding into new market segments through market-leading technology platforms. The Group’s unique experience of operating in different jurisdictions enables it to adopt a tailored approach to customer experience in each market, helping to increase sales and returns to good causes.

Responsible gaming and funding good causes are at the heart of SAZKA Group’s business and culture. It promotes responsible gaming in all of its markets and is committed to having a positive impact where it operates. From building children’s hospitals in Greece to support for the Czech Olympic Foundation, SAZKA Group has put its business skills to the benefit of the local community.

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