Sainsbury Saga Continues

The soap opera over the fall-off at Sainsbury is still being played out in the British press

When last we reported on this story executive search firm Whitehead Mann was taking flak for placing a candidate who left within a week.

Now the recruiters are firing back.

Whitehead Mann, which was sacked by Sainsbury in the aftermath of the affair, defended its role and accused its former client of attempting to pass the buck over the disastrous appointment.

Taking the unusual step of talking publicly about a client, Stephen Lawrence accused Sainsbury of "wanting to deflect the criticism" when the appointment backfired.

Whitehead Mann had warned the Sainsbury board about Sir Ian's patchy reputation in parts of the City and only put him forward as one of a shortlist of five equal candidates, he said.

Sounds like a reference check was in order. Think I should send them my handy reference questions? Maybe he had a lot of reference letters and they believed them?

Mr Lawrence said it was agreed during the search that Sir George Bull, then Sainsbury chairman and head of the nominations committee, would take his own City soundings, rather than rely on Whitehead Mann to do it.

Is soundings a British term for references?

He also pointed out that his firm was "paid in full" for the job - a fee understood to have been about £115,000 - citing it as further evidence that Sainsbury had nothing to complain about.

Sainsbury had no official comment yesterday, though one source at the retailer said it would have been difficult to reduce the fee because it was largely paid in advance.

Heh heh sneaky British headhunters.

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