UK supermarket group Sainsbury's has begun the search for a new chairman following the departure of Sir Philip Hampton.

The company has reportedly called in city headhunting firm Egon Zehnder to find potential candidates to succeed Hampton, who became Sainsbury's chairman in July 2004, taking over from former chief executive Sir Peter Davies.

Hampton was recently named as the new boss of Royal Bank of Scotland, the beleaguered UK bank.

According to reports, Sainsbury's is likely to find its new chairman externally, rather than from its existing non-executive directors.

Sainsbury's declined to comment on the search when contacted by just-food today (26 January).