Asda appoints new CEO as it claims brand is finally ‘realising its potential’

Former Sainsbury’s retail and operations director Roger Burnley is set to take the reins.


‘Big four’ supermarket Asda has today (30 October) announced the appointment of Roger Burnley as its new president and chief executive.

Burnley, who is currently chief operating officer and deputy CEO’, is due to start in the new role from 1 January 2018. He’s an experienced retail man having served as Sainsbury’s retail and operations director before joining Asda in October 2016. Importantly, Burnley has a long history with Asda having previously worked there between 1996 and 2002.

According to David Cheesewright, CEO of Asda owner Walmart International, it was always the intention for outgoing CEO Sean Clarke to lead a “transition”. He explained: “Roger was purposely brought back to Asda to partner with Sean ahead of the transition to Roger taking up the position of CEO.

“He and Sean have worked as a great team and I’m really confident in Roger’s ability to continue building upon our returning momentum. Sean will continue to lead Asda until the end of December, after which he’s taking some time out and will then remain engaged with Walmart.”

In August, Asda reported its first quarterly rise in sales for three years. Sales, excluding petrol, rose 1.8% in the three months to the end of June as the supermarket claimed consumers were responding positively to in-store improvements and price cuts. Consequently, Burnley believes he’s inheriting a brand that’s finally starting to turn the corner.

“Asda is a great business and we’ve started to realise its potential again,” he added. “Sean’s focus on serving customers and simplifying the business has established a firm foundation on which we can build.”

In reality, perceptions around the Asda brand have remained relatively flat over the last year. According to YouGov BrandIndex, its index score – which is a combination of consumer brand perceptions on metrics including buzz, quality, value, reputation, and satisfaction – has grown by just 0.5 points over the last 12 months. Asda’s score is still some distance behind rivals M&S, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Waitrose, Lidl, Morrisons and Tesco.

However, there are at least signs that its advertising is improving. Over the same period, Asda’s ad awareness score increased by 1.3 points to a score of 19.5. This rise is deemed statistically significant and places it 7th on a list of the UK’s 26 biggest supermarket brands.

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