Asda promotes Clarke in top team reshuffle

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The Independent Online

Asda, the UK’s second-largest grocer, has promoted Andy Clarke to chief operating officer, as it simplifies the structure of its senior executives.

The promotion comes as Asda is expected to today unveil like-for-like sales growth, excluding fuel, of more than 7 per cent for its fourth quarter of 2008.

The grocer has added logistics to the remit of Mr Clarke, who was previously retail director, and is now accountable for all operations.

Asda has also changed the job titles of the group trading director Darren Blackhurst to chief merchandising officer and that of marketing director Rick Bendel to chief marketing officer, to bring it more in line with parent Wal-Mart’s management structure.

The promotion of Mr Clarke will add to speculation about who may eventually replace Andy Bond, the current chief executive. Mr Bond has said that he will not stay in his current job beyond 2012. Some have tipped Mr Bond as a contender for the top job at Marks & Spencer once Sir Stuart Rose retires, although other sources believe he may take a wider international role within Wal-Mart.

By giving Mr Clarke the logistics brief, Asda has freed up Doug Gurr, its executive development director, to focus on new development areas, such as Asda’s e-commerce site and financial services business.