Somerfield ousts Coles

Somerfield has ousted marketing director David Coles and Kwik Save managing director Derek Pretty to strengthen its control in the 1.2bn merger with Kwik Save.

Somerfield chief executive David Simons will take “personal charge” of the Kwik Save business from Pretty as the chain is integrated with Somerfield over the next year.

City analysts believe the move suggests Simons is unhappy with the way Kwik Save has been run.

Philip Smith, who was promoted to deputy chief executive of the combined company in February after being Kwik Save’s group marketing director, will now not take up this role, which is being axed. Instead he becomes group marketing director. Ex-Somerfield operations director Anthony O’Neill will continue to run the Somerfield business.

The move comes just a month after the merger received final approval. The shakeout signals Simons’ desire to slim down a top-heavy management.

Observers say the original board for the merged company, announced in February, was seen as a way of keeping both sets of directors happy.

Kwik Save brand director Alan Shepherd will become marketing director for Kwik Save, reporting to Smith and Simons.

Somerfield refuses to give any explanation for the shake-up. In a prepared statement, Simons says: “This reorganisation of the executive board achieves a unified approach while ensuring that our attention is focused on the big task of integration.”

Analysts say the restructure represents a shift in power in favour of Somerfield, reflecting Kwik Save’s status as a subsidiary of Somerfield.

Credit Lyonnaise Lang analyst Paul Smiddy says: “The move represents the fact that Somerfield has got its teeth into the business and wants to shake it up.”

Another analyst adds: “It shows Simons was not happy with what he found in Prestatyn [where Kwik Save’s head office is based].”

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