Williams, who replaced Steve Smith as Asda’s chief customer officer last month, will be assisted in Asda’s new look marketing team by Claire Harrison-Church as vice president of marketing and Lizzy Mazzy, vice president of customer relations.
Clarke, speaking to Marketing Week at Asda’s Q4 results briefing yesterday, insists Williams is the right man for the role despite not having a traditional background in marketing. Williams joined Asda in 2009 as category director for BWS before being promoted to commercial director for fresh and then taking over the full food brief.
“Barry is a fantastic trader and he gives us a real advantage and a fresh perspective,” said Clarke.
“What does he think about every day? Well, customers and the role that our proposition plays within the retail market. In a short space of time, he’s already made a great start and focused our marketing team on customers even more than Steve did, who did a good job.”
Clarke admitted the retail market was at ‘one of the most challenging periods in its history’ at yesterday’s results briefing as Asda posted a 2.6% fall in like-for-like sales for the 12 weeks to 4 January.
Asda’s full year LFL sales for 2014 were also down, by 1% – the first time it has posted a drop in yearly sales since 2008.
However, Clarke said that Asda, which will invest £600m in 2015 on new stores and revamping existing sites as part of a brand refresh to more closely align itself with parent company Walmart, will focus this year’s ad campaigns on reintroducing the Asda brand in a bid to win back customers from the discounters Aldi and Lidl.
“We need to remind people what makes Asda great and show that our winning strategy in areas such as price, stores of the future, George Home and click and collect gives Asda a clear advantage over our rivals.”