Supermarket shake up

Andy Bond’s sudden departure from his role as CEO of Asda has sent ripples through the supermarket sector.

After five years in the post, Bond announced on Monday (12 April) that he is stepping down as chief executive of the supermarket and is moving to a newly created part-time role as chairman.

A new day is dawning for the supermarkets and two of the “big four” will have new leaders at the helm, as will high street food chain Marks & Spencer.

With new faces at Asda, Morrisons and M&S, the retail sector could be heading for a shake up and the newcomers will need to make their mark on their respective chains, which have all performed very well during the recession.

Fraser Mckevit, retail analyst at Kantar Worldpanel points out that while Asda has had a good recession because of its relentless focus on value, the challenge will be keeping hold of them when the economy recovers.

He adds that while Marc Bolland turned Morrisons around with exciting promotions to drive footfall and change perceptions of the store, his successor Dalton Philips will need to decide if he continues the same strategy of simple retail done well, or whether he embarks on a big strategic change looking at convenience stores, online retail or loyalty programmes.

Bond’s successor faces similar decisions at Asda and it’s a particularly interesting time. As the country works its way out of recession and supermarkets face falling inflation rates, strategies will need to change to reflect that.

Speculation now abounds over who will take the reins from Bond with most believing the selection will come from within the Wal-Mart family.

Wal-Mart’s head of grocery Jack Sinclair, a former retailer at both Tesco and Safeway, Asda trading director Darren Blackhurst and Asda chief operating officer Andy Clarke are all hotly tipped as possible contenders but out in front is current financial director Judith McKenna.

McKenna has been with Asda since 1996 and has headed property and store development and design in her time at the supermarket.

I think it’s about time that a major UK supermarket had a woman in charge.

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