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Sazka appoints former Sainsbury’s CEO to support UK National Lottery bid

| By Robert Fletcher
Czech gambling giant Sazka Group has announced Justin King, former chief executive of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, as the first appointment to a new advisory board to support its bid for the fourth UK National Lottery licence.
Allwyn National Lottery

King will serve on the advisory board that will provide counsel to Sir Keith Mills, who was appointed as bid chair in November last year.

King will now work with Mills and the Sazka team on retail strategy and how the National Lottery can play a role in the revitalisation of the high street and local retail after the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic ends.

His role will also include advising Sazka’s transition plans and, should Sazka be awarded the licence, he would lead the transition team to help ensure business continuity.

King joined Sainsbury’s as chief executive in 2004 after spells in senior roles with both Asda and Marks & Spencer. While at Sainsbury’s, King oversaw 36 consecutive quarters of sales growth and profit.

“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,” King said.

“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 plans to make a series of other appointments to the advisory board, with its members set to include experts from areas such as good causes, player protection, digital and innovation, and entertainment.

“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,” Mills said.

“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.”

Shortly after Mills was appointed to lead the bid, it was confirmed that if the group were to secure the licence, he would acquire a stake in the business.

Also in relation to the bid, Sazka in November named Emma Young as transition lead, Rob Clarke as organisation leader for the bid, Steve James as its network area lead for the bid in the UK, and Gerry Walsh to serve as Sazka’s supply chain management area lead in London.

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