Moneybox

U.K. Supermarket CEO Sings “We’re in the Money” Before Interview on $18 Billion Merger

The exterior of a Sainsbury’s grocery
Straight to No. 1.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Britain’s second- and third-largest grocery stores, Sainsbury’s and Asda, announced plans on Monday to merge and create what will be the country’s largest supermarket chain, with nearly 3,000 stores across the United Kingdom.

To drum up support for the roughly $18 billion merger, which will have to pass muster with regulators in London, Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe took to the airwaves … to sing “We’re in the Money” as he waited to go on TV.

“We’re in the money, the sky is sunny/ Let’s lend it, spend it, send it rolling along.”

The chippy tune comes from the American musical film 42nd Street, which was produced in 1933 and imagines an end to the Great Depression but has sometimes been associated with avaricious behavior. Needless to say it was not the best choice for the music-loving chief executive, though his company’s stock did rise nearly 17 percent at the prospect of becoming the country’s No. 1 grocer.

“It was an unfortunate choice of song, from the musical 42nd Street, which I saw last year. And I apologise if I have offended anyone,” Coupe said afterward, according to a statement provided to the Guardian. This little earworm about rolling in money had nothing to do with the subject of Coupe’s imminent interview, Sainsbury’s insisted. “To attach any wide meaning to this innocent, personal moment is preposterous,” a company spokesperson said.

The company says buying Asda from Walmart will allow it to reduce prices of everyday goods by 10 percent and has no plans to close stores. The British Labour Party called for an investigation, arguing that the acquisition would create a duopoly with “unrivaled power to dominate.”

Not in the money quite yet.