Asda poaches from Aldi with hire of new chief customer officer

The hire comes as supermarket looks to fend off Aldi, which has been stealing share from the major supermarket brands.

asdaAsda has hired Aldi’s group director of marketing and communications, David Hills, as its new chief customer officer.

He fills the gap left by the departure of former chief customer officer Meghan Farren, who left the business last autumn after just over a year in post to return to KFC as general manager for the UK and Ireland.

Hills joined discount supermarket Aldi in 2007, advancing through a number of senior commercial roles before taking up his current job in 2013. He previously worked at Kellogg’s in the UK and Australia for nine years, latterly as UK customer marketing controller.

The new customer boss is set to join Asda later this year, with acting chief customer officer Sam Dickson continuing in the role until that time. Dickson will then take on strategic responsibility for the Asda and George brand customer propositions, with the goal of improving quality perception.

Over the past 12 months,  Asda has demonstrated its absolute focus on ensuring customers are at the heart of its decision making.

Mohsin Issa, Asda

The last 12 months has seen Asda double down on price amid the cost of living crisis and competition from the discount supermarkets. Last year the grocer launched a new own-brand value range, Just Essentials, and last week it announced a price freeze on 600 products. The grocer also rolled out its first nationwide loyalty programme Asda Rewards in August.

Under Dickson’s leadership, Asda also topped System1’s Christmas effectiveness rankings with its ‘Have Your Elf a Merry Christmas’ ad, achieving the research firm’s top score for its potential to drive long-term brand impact.

Commenting on Hill’s appointment, Asda’s co-owner Mohsin Issa says:  “Over the past 12 months,  Asda has demonstrated its absolute focus on ensuring customers are at the heart of its decision making and as we continue to build our great brand for the future, [Hill’s] expertise will bring a new perspective to our existing strength and breadth of leadership.”

Last year Aldi shook up the UK’s grocery market by displacing Morrisons as the country’s fourth biggest supermarket. According to Kantar data, in December the discounter grew its market share faster than any of its UK competitors with growth of 27%, taking its share up from 7.7% a year earlier to 9.1%.

Aldi also claimed its “best ever Christmas” last year, with sales exceeding £1.4bn. However, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons accounted for more than two-thirds of all spending over the period, Kantar says. Asda led this group, with sales up by 6.4%.