Asda boss replaces CMO in executive team overhaul as he anticipates ‘tough year’ ahead

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke has overhauled its executive team, bringing in a new marketing boss, as the supermarket readies itself for what he anticipates will be “one of the toughest years for retailers in the UK”.

Barry Williams,currently chief merchandising officer, will replace marketing boss Steve Smith as chief customer officer.

Smith was promoted to the new role from chief marketing officer last March with the aim of bringing format development and marketing together to become "a truly customer centric omni-channel busines."

However, Clarke hailed Williams’ “skill and passion” in driving its food trading operation.

“His absolute focus on doing the right things for our customers meant he was the natural choice for me to promote into the critical role of chief customer officer.”

Smith, who was on "secondment", will remain within the Walmart group, although his next role has not yet been finalised.

Meanwhile, Andrew Moore has been promoted to chief merchandising officer and will oversee food trading in addition to his current responsibilities for George andgeneral merchandise.

Clarke said Moore’s promotion will “bring a renewed focus on product design and development, product quality” across the organisation.

Finally, accountabilities across vice presidents have been consolidated, including the appointment of Nick Jones to managing director of George and Fiona Lambert to vice president of product development design. Lambert will report to Moore.

In a note to colleagues confirming the changes, Clarke assured that they would “enable Asda to prosper in an increasingly competitive market by enabling faster decisions through streamlined structures where colleagues are empowered under the leadership of fewer, bigger leadership roles.”

He added in a statement: “A retail business runs in cycles and as we start the year – one which promises to be the toughest year yet for our sector – I want stability at the top of the organisation through fewer, bigger leadership roles which will speed up decision making in this highly competitive market.”

It comes a week after the retailer announced it had invested £300m in its biggest ever Rollback campaign in a move mirroring that of its ‘Big Four’ rivals as they try to compete with discounters like Lidl and Aldi.

Asda has not yet updated investors on its Christmas trading, but Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons have all reported dissappointing results.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, Asda's sales fell 1.6 per cent in the 12 weeks to 4 January, while its market share fell to 16.8 per cent versus 17.1 per cent a year earlier.

Earlier today, rival supermarket chains Aldi, Lidl and Sainsbury's each made it into YouGov's brand rankings, however Asda alongside Tesco and Morrisons were noticeably absent.

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