Wilkinson has hired former Asda non-food trading director Peter Pritchard as the value retailer bolsters its management team.

Pritchard will join the family-owned retailer on April 14 as head of buying, replacing Simon Hathway who has been appointed as head of retail.

Pritchard’s appointment represents a further strengthening of Wilkinson’s management team with big-name appointments.

Chief executive Stuart Mitchell, former managing director of supermarkets at Sainsbury’s, took the helm in January 2007. Hathway also joined from Sainsbury’s shortly afterwards.

Mitchell said: “Wilkinson is delighted that Peter Pritchard has been appointed as head of buying and will join the executive team. We believe Peter will complement the current buying and trading teams and bring a significant contribution to the ongoing success of
our business.”

Pritchard worked at Asda for 12 years and held senior roles in food, retail development and, most recently, general merchandise. He left Asda last year when chief executive Andy Bond reshuffled the management team.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark believes that the Wilkinson appointment shows the retailer is now a force to be reckoned with.

Clark said: “This appointment confirms Wilkinson is a big hitter. It has historically done well, but this levelled off in 2005/06.

“However, it seems to have got its momentum back again. It’s a family firm and, as such, it is tempting to leave the management static and lean. But as you grow you need to let management grow with the company; this is clearly something it has done.”

He added: “One tends to forget the significance and importance of Wilkinson. It is a substantial presence in retail.

“Wilkinson is what Woolworths should have been. Now there’s a gap to fill and they are well placed to fill it.”

For the year to February 1, 2008, Wilkinson reported pre-tax profits climbed 4 per cent to£50.3m. Total sales increased 9.5 per cent to£1.4bn.