Three internal candidates are among the front-runners to take over from Anthony Thompson as managing director of George at Asda.
Thompson - who will leave Asda at the end of March to become chief executive of Fat Face - has built up a solid team at George.
Industry sources told Retail Week the leading contenders to replace him from George are brand director Fiona Lambert, merchandise director Andrew Moore and retail director Roger McLaughlin.
Asda chief executive Andy Bond said last week that he will reveal Thompson’s successor “in the next few weeks” rather than months, prompting speculation the role will go to an insider. However, one source said: “I wouldn’t rule out an external candidate as Andy [Bond] will want to make sure he considers all the options.”
Lambert is highly regarded for her product expertise. She knows Asda well, having launched George with founder George Davies and spent 22 years moving between George and Next, until she was appointed George brand director in 2007.
Moore was a former colleague of Thompson at Marks & Spencer, where he worked with George Davies to launch Per Una, and was drafted in to George in 2007.
His skill is on the merchandise side, but he is also said to be strong on strategy.
McLaughlin joined George in 2008, having previously held roles at M&S and footwear retailer Stylo. He was also previously chief executive of homewares retailer Floors-2-Go. His leadership skills are respected.
Thompson will join Fat Face on April 19. He is understood to have a stake in the retailer to encourage him to build the chain ahead of a possible float or sale. It is thought he will tackle Fat Face’s product and brand direction in the face of stiff competition from retailers including White Stuff and Jack Wills.
Thompson replaces Louise Barnes, who will leave after seven years at the retailer.
Fat Face chairman Alan Giles said the retailer has potential to develop with new stores and online. He said: “As with any business there are always a lot of challenges.” But he added that there is “no evidence of us running out of steam”.