Asda’s incoming chief executive Roger Burnley has reshaped his senior management team, including drafting in a strategy boss from parent Walmart.

Burnley, who succeeds Sean Clarke as Asda chief executive in January, told staff in a memo that Preyash Thakrar will join “in a few weeks” as chief strategy officer, reporting directly to him.

Thakrar is at present in charge of strategy and real estate at Walmart Canada. Asda’s business implementation team will report into him.

In the memo seen by Retail Week, Burnley revealed he has also promoted Anthony Hemmerdinger, vice-president of retail south, to the role of senior vice-president, retail operations director. He will join Asda’s board and will also report directly to Burnley.

Burnley said: “Anthony has been with us for 18 months and has made a tremendous difference in that time, demonstrating great leadership and making a big contribution.”

Chris Walker, who was poached from discount rival Lidl as vice-president of supermarkets last year, will become Asda’s vice-president, retail south.

Burnley said: “In the 11 months that Chris has been with us, he’s made a remarkable difference to the supermarket division and I’m excited to see how he’ll bring his passion for and approach to retailing to team South.”

Details of the changes emerged just a week after Asda drafted in ex-Carrefour executive Jesús Lorente as its new chief merchandising officer.

Lorente will replace Andrew Moore, who is retiring in January after three years in the role and almost 10 years with the business.

Burnley told Asda staff: “Over the last few weeks I’ve given a lot of thought to my leadership team, in preparation for what will be another exciting year in our turnaround.

“While it’s important that we all stay firmly focused on giving customers a great experience over the next seven weeks, today I want to share details of some changes with you, so that we hit the ground running in the New Year.”

The raft of changes revealed by Burnley today also include: 

  • Steve Shirley being promoted to vice-president, supermarkets
  • Mark Simpson, at present vice-president, central retail operations, becoming vice-president of supply and replenishment
  • Jodie Tate, joining Asda from big four rival Sainsbury’s – where she was zone managing director for the North – as vice-president, central retail
  • Phil Tenney becoming chief digital and tech officer

Asda posted its first quarterly sales rise for three years in the summer, as like-for-likes climbed 1.8% in the 13 weeks to July 28, compared to a 7.5% nosedive in the comparable period last year.

The supermarket giant has focused on cutting prices, enhancing product quality and availability, and improving customer service since Clarke was parachuted in from Walmart’s Chinese business 18 months ago.

But the grocer is also pressing ahead with plans to restructure the business and streamline its workforce.

In September, Asda revealed it was swinging the axe on 300 roles across central operations at Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicester as it presses ahead with turnaround efforts.