Retail’s got the moves

The supermarket sector is once more awash with new arrivals, shock departures and reshuffles. None more significant than the surprise announcement that Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy is to step down.

Sir Terry is to be replaced in March by Phillip Clarke, who currently handles Tesco overseas presence.

Tesco’s Tim Mason, previously resident of the Fresh & Easy chain in the US, has also been made deputy CEO with a focus on branding, company values, and climate change.

Both appointments are clear indicators that Tesco sees international trade and environmental issues as key to its future.

Meanwhile, Asda marketing director Mark Sinnock has left to be replaced by internal candidate Jon Owen.

Morrisons promoted group trading director to Martyn Jones to a new position of group corporate services director.

Waitrose has promoted its marketing director Rupert Thomas to the board as part of a restructure following commercial director Richard Hodgson’s defection to Morrisons. His appointment to the board signals the rising importance of marketing to the business

These most recent appointments continue the trend for movement in the upper echelons of the supermarket world.

Asda, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer have all appointed new chief executives this year. Marc Bolland left Morrisons to take over from Sir Stuart Rose at M&S. Bolland was replaced by Dalton Philips at Morrisons.

Asda’s Andy Bond handed over the baton to former chief operating officer Andy Clarke in May.

Sainsbury’s is left as the only major supermarket chain with the same CEO. I wonder if the board are looking to welcome fresh blood into the Sainsbury’s camp or if the thinking is that Justin King has more in him yet and the continuity will give Sainsbury’s the edge over its rivals with their fresh faces.

Interesting too that of all the departing CEO’s, Bolland, Sir Terry and Andy Bond are all ex marketers, and are now being replaced by successors with primarily operational or trade experience.

Is this a signal that the high profile marketing campaigns we’ve seen from the supermarkets in the past few years are coming to an end to be replaced by something different?

It’s a little early to tell but as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest and I don’t doubt that the sector will continue to be the same cut-throat and competitive market we’ve come to love… or loathe.

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