A former supermarket supremo has joined a Dundee-based retail technology venture in a bid to support better connections between high street businesses and their local customer base.

Justin King, who led Sainsbury’s for 10 years, has become a senior adviser with Snappy Shopper, an e-commerce site for the UK’s convenience grocery sector and the hospitality sector.

King was appointed to the board as non-executive director following the launch of the company’s series ‘A’ fundraising round. A series ‘A’ round refers to a company’s first significant round of venture capital financing.

Participants in the Snappy Group’s initial seed rounds, beside the management team, included Kelvin Capital, Scottish Enterprise and Mercia Asset Management.

The Scottish software company, which is formed of two businesses – Snappy Shopper and Hungrrr – works in partnership with local businesses to provide them with an ‘affordable’ outsourced tech platform ‘tailored to their needs’ and designed to drive up their revenue.

The Snappy Shopper app enables consumers to order groceries from their local convenience store and have them delivered to their doorstep by the store’s own drivers in as little as 30 minutes.

The group’s Hungrrr app operates in the hospitality sector and allows customers in restaurants, hotels and so on to order breakfast to a hotel room or drinks to a pub table all on their phone.

It is hoped that King, who has made a ‘significant’ investment in the company and has 30 years’ experience in the consumer goods and grocery retailing sectors, will ‘bring this wealth of retail understanding and business experience’ to the board of the Snappy Group.

King said: “I have been hugely impressed by the Snappy Group’s affordable solution, leadership team and rapid growth. The company is championing the needs of businesses in their local community. Its proprietary technology provides local businesses with an affordable delivery solution which enables them to compete in this fast-changing market segment. This not only caters to the trend for top up shopping but also an increasing desire by consumers to access and support local enterprises.

“This is an exciting and pivotal time for the business and I believe that I will be able to add significant value. I look forward to working with the management team as the business continues its expansion andgrows its market share further within the thriving UK convenience market and beyond.”

Mike Callachan, co-founder of Snappy Shopper, said: “We are very excited to have been able to attract Justin’s interest and investment. Justin is one of the UK’s most successful business leaders and brings a wealth of experience within the retail and FMCG sector, which will be invaluable as we expand further.

“Prior to the pandemic, the Snappy Group was already established in both hospitality and grocery home delivery. The lockdown has served to accelerate the online trend, but we strongly believe that the shift in consumer behaviour will persist in the long term. While we expect the rapid rate of growth in deliveries to slow slightly as lockdown eases through the summer months, the online market is a long way from maturation.”

“Our mission is to give communities on demand access to the products of local businesses. In this context, our platform is based on genuine partnerships and the principle of mutual benefit. The platform therefore evolves to suit their needs and I believe our flexibility, commitment and commission structure differentiate us from our competitors.”

John McNicol, founder of Kelvin Capital, said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Justin King as senior board adviser to the Snappy Group, one of the most exciting Scottish software companies. The group’s rapid expansion has exceeded our expectations to date and this appointment represents a significant milestone in the aspirations of the company.”

King was CEO of Sainsbury’s between 2004 and 2014, and before then he was head of food at Marks & Spencer. He is currently a non-executive director of Marks & Spencer and a member of the public interest Body of PwC.

The Snappy Group started with 220 business partners in 2019 and today has 1,150 with more than 700,000 consumers using the platform across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and annualised Gross Merchandise Volume nearly £100m for the year ended March 2021.