Roger Burnley’s appointment as Asda’s new chief executive doesn’t come with any element of surprise, but it still marks an important juncture in the retailer’s recent history.
Burnley was initially brought in from Sainsbury’s a year ago as chief commercial officer and deputy chief executive and it was an open secret that the plan was for him to eventually succeed Sean Clarke as the main man.
It says much about the high regard in which Burnley is held by industry peers that Sainsbury’s colleagues were gutted to lose him, and rival grocers will be respectful of his ability to build on the foundations that Clarke has laid since he joined the UK business from Walmart China.
Clarke deserves a huge amount of credit for the work he has done in the past 15 months. He joined a business that was deep in the mire, had lost focus and stopped doing the basics well.
But Clarke kept his head down, simplified the strategy to focus on price, range and service, and leaves at a time when the first green shoots of recovery are starting to show.
On the shoulders of Clarke
Burnley now has firm foundations in place from which to build a newly successful Asda. And he has the distinct benefit of being able to hit the ground running, having worked closely with Clarke on Asda’s strategy since his return to his native Yorkshire.
“If Asda does, as I expect, continue along the road to recovery, Burnley will be the first to acknowledge the role Clarke has played in turning the ship around”
Often new chief executives come in and want to tear up the rule book, but there’s little chance of that happening with Burnley.
He is a sensible, no-nonsense operator who doesn’t add unnecessary complexity to the business of selling groceries and will listen closely to his staff and respond to the needs of Asda shoppers.
This is in part what makes him a popular figure among colleagues, not least those on the shop floor. He also happens to be a down-to-earth guy with a good sense of humour.
I’ve no doubt Burnley will be successful in his new role; but if Asda does, as I expect, continue along the road to recovery, Burnley will be the first to acknowledge the role Clarke has played in turning the ship around.
|Name||Job role||Previous company / company exiting||Company joining||Job role|
|Nick Read||Chief executive||Nisa|
|David Boynton||Chief executive||Charles Tyrwhitt||The Body Shop||Chief executive|
|Karl Doyle||Executive group product director||Mothercare||Reiss||Group trading director|
|Steve Murray||Chief executive||Dr Martens|
|Chris Harris||Property director||Arcadia Group||John Lewis||Property director|
|Paul Justice||Operations director||Dixons Carphone||Debenhams||Retail operations director|
|Ben Jobling||International franchise and wholesale director||Dune||Debenhams||International franchise director|
|Simon Dales||Retail operations director||Debenhams||Retiring|
|James Radford||General manager for EMEA||FitFlop||Dune||International franchise and wholesale director|
|Davy Zyw||Global wine and spirits buyer||Direct Wines||Berry Bros. & Rudd||Wine buyer|
|Nick Canning||Joint managing director||Iceland|
|Alex Baldock||Chief executive||Shop Direct|
|Arnu Misra||Non-executive director||Internal move||Nisa||Interim chief executive|
|Paul Andrew||Design director for women’s footwear||Internal promotion||Salvatore Ferragamo||Creative director for women’s collections|
|Alan Williams||Managing director||Sleepmasters / Bensons||Bensons||Chief operations officer|
|Dean Simpson||Harveys||Chief operations officer|
|Henry Swift||Interim marketing director||Internal promotion||Steinhoff||Chief customer officer|
|Mark Jackson||Chief financial officer||Pepkor UK||Bensons for Beds and Harveys||Finance director for both brands|
|Chily Fachler||IT & process director||Internal promotion||Steinhoff||Chief information officer|
|Karen Peacock||Design director||Amazon||Warehouse||Design director|
|Andrew Humphreys||Chief financial officer||Conviviality|
|Matt Atkinson||Chief marketing officer||Saga||The Co-operative||Chief membership officer|
|Mark Moran||Conviviality||Chief financial officer|
|Shaun Wills||Chief executive||Jacques Vert|
|Peter Ridler||Jacques Vert||Chief executive|
|Jonathan Wall||Group ecommerce director||Shop Direct||Missguided||Chief digital officer|
|Christopher Bailey||President and chief creative officer||Burberry|
|Roger Burnley||Chief commercial officer and deputy chief executive||Internal promotion||Asda||Chief executive|
|Sean Clarke||Chief executive||Asda|
|Tom Athron||Group development director||John Lewis Partnership|
|Jo Jenkins||Director of clothing||Marks & Spencer||White Stuff||Chief executive|
|Nick Smith||Retail director||Dixons Carphone||DFS||Retail director|
|Mike Carslake||Retail director, Carphone Warehouse||Internal promotion||Dixons Carphone||Retail director|
|Kevin Snowball||Divisional director||Internal promotion||Dixons Carphone||Retail director, Carphone Warehouse|
|Simon Brace||Director||The Real Adventure||The Mall at Cribbs Causeway||Head of marketing|