Asda hires head of marketing

Asda, the UK’s third biggest supermarket, has appointed a marketing director six months after losing Steven Cain to Carlton Communications, where he became chief executive.

The appointment, which will allow Allan Leighton to return to his main responsibilities as Asda chief executive, contradicts reports that the supermarket was to drop the marketing director’s role permanently after Cain’s departure last November.

The new appointee, former North-west managing director Richard Baker, will take responsibility for the Asda brand, customer service and marketing, according to a company spokeswoman.

Baker, who has held senior positions within Asda since joining the chain from Mars three years ago. He will take up his new post on June 21.

The chain’s advertising account was worth &£29m last year. Publicis was appointed as creative agency exactly ten years ago, while Carat – then TMD Carat – was hired to handle media planning and buying in June 1994.

However, questions remain over the media services arrangements as a result of Asda’s proposed merger with the Kingfisher group, which includes B&Q and Woolworths.

Kingfisher retains Bates UK and Zenith for the bulk of its advertising. However, the two agencies also handle Safeway business, leading to speculation that one or both retailers may be forced to review.

Kingfisher shareholders this week voted 99 per cent in favour of the merger. Asda shareholders are due to vote on June 18.

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