Asda has appointed Andy Clarke as its new chief executive.
Clarke, who has been promoted from chief operating officer, takes over from Andy Bond, who will now step up to the role of part-time chairman.
Clarke has been widely tipped for the role following internal candidates, finance chief Judith McKenna and Walmart Canada boss David Cheesewright, ruling themselves out. Another internal candidate, chief merchandising officer Darren Blackhurst, left the business last week. A clutch of other Walmart directors were also in the running.
Clarke joined Asda as a store manager in 1992 and worked his way up the business. In 2002 he left for a three-year stint at value clothing chain Matalan then frozen food retailer Iceland but returned to Asda as retail director in 2005. At Matalan he was group retail director and at Iceland he was managing director.
Bond said: “I’m delighted to appoint Andy Clarke to be my successor. He was clearly the right choice from the internal and external candidates we considered. I’m looking forward to doing everything I can to ensure a smooth transition for Andy in his new role.”
President and CEO of Walmart International, Doug McMillon said: “At Walmart and at Asda, we have a robust succession planning and talent development process and Andy Clarke has long been identified as a leader. With his long career at Asda, working first as a store manager, followed by key roles in trading, as retail director and most recently as COO, Andy knows the company, our colleagues and he cares about our customers. He is the ideal person for the job and this will be a seamless leadership change.”
Clarke takes over at a difficult time for the Walmart-owned grocer. Asda has been losing market share to rivals, having suffered over Christmas from the intense price promotions across the sector and the bad weather affecting trade at its out of town stores.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, Asda’s market share contracted from 17% to 16.9% over the 12 weeks to April 18. It has since launched an ambitious marketing campaign, pledging to consistently be the cheapest supermarket, or give shoppers a refund.
At the launch of the Asda Price Guarantee last month, Bond claimed that the move would ensure “Asda cannot, and will not, be beaten on price. Our grocery guarantee puts an end to the phoney price wars that most shoppers are sick of”.
Clarke will also have to recruit a new trading director, following the sudden departure of Blackhurst last week. Its marketing chief Rick Bendel is overseeing his responsibilities until a permanent replacement is found.
Clarke will also have the task of hitting ambitious targets set out by Bond, including to become number one in general merchandise and clear number two in food within the next five years.