Anthony Thompson to join as MD this month

Asda has recruited Marks & Spencer’s former retail director to run its£2 billion George clothing business.

Anthony Thompson will join as managing director of George on September 17. His remit is to run operations in the UK and further develop the brand’s international presence.

He replaces Angela Spindler, who departed suddenly last month for “family reasons”.

Thompson left M&S in April this year and was thought to have grown frustrated with the concentration of power at the top of M&S under chief executive Stuart Rose. As retail director, he was responsible for enhancing the management of M&S’s flagship stores, Simply Foods and retail park outlets.

At George, he will report to Asda chief executive Andy Bond. Thompson told Retail Week: “I got a call from Andy directly and I really liked the team and the people I met at Asda. It is a fantastic brand.” He added that his focus would be on assessing the health of the UK business before turning his attention to any expansion abroad.

Two industry sources who have met Thompson spoke highly of his retail and leadership abilities. “He is bloody good,” said one. The other said: “There are huge plans to take the George brand global.”

At present, George is sold in nine countries worldwide, including Asda supermarkets, the non-food Asda Living format and 12 standalone George stores on the UK high street. Thompson said: “The main thing is to ensure that George customers are getting what they want.”

Previously, Bond has said that Asda is considering either improving the high street stores or closing them.