Sazka Group has announced today that former CEO of Sainsbury’s, Justin King CBE, will be the inaugural appointment to an advisory board that will provide counsel to bid chair Sir Keith Mills and the wider team as part of the company’s bid for the Fourth National Lottery Licence.

The bid advisory board will include experts from a range of fields, including good causes, player protection, digital and innovation, and entertainment.

King will work closely with 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 lottery’s product and marketing portfolio.

If the group is awarded the licence, it would mark the first change in operator since the lottery’s 1994 inception. King’s role announced today includes him advising the group’s transition plans and, should it be awarded the Fourth Licence, leading the transition team to guarantee business continuity.

King said on his appointment: “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.”

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 36 consecutive quarters of sales growth and profit. In addition to this, he 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, he was awarded a CBE in 2011.

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.”

Back in November, Sazka continued to build its consortium for the Fourth National Lottery License Competition by confirming four new UK hires for its transition, procurement, supply chain and data network teams in London.