Asda starts search for new chief exec

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The Independent Online

Supermarket giant Asda has launched the search for a new chief executive after announcing today that Andy Bond is to move to a part-time role as chairman.

The group - the UK's second biggest grocery chain - said it hoped to hire a new boss soon, but added that Mr Bond would remain as chief executive until a successor is appointed.

Mr Bond has led Asda for the past five years and has notched up a 16-year career with the firm.

In his upcoming role, which has been newly created by the firm, he will help ensure a "smooth transition" for the new chief executive, according to Asda.

The supermarket - at the centre of speculation suggesting takeover interest in Argos parent Home Retail Group - also confirmed plans to outline its strategic framework for growth on Thursday.

Asda said US parent Wal-Mart was looking internally and externally for Mr Bond's replacement.

Mr Bond will work three days a week as chairman - a role that will also enable him to work on other projects.

His move marks the latest in a series of changes in the retail sector after the departure of Marc Bolland from Morrisons to join Marks & Spencer.

Mr Bolland is taking on the top job at M&S on May 1, while his successor Dalton Philips has already started at Morrisons.

Asda said Mr Bond would continue to play a very "hands on role" in his capacity as chairman.

The wider Wal-Mart group saw a similar switch when chief executive Lee Scott became chairman in November 2008 after handing over the reins to Mike Duke.

Mr Bond leaves the position after record results in 2009, with like-for-like sales up 6%.

The Leeds-headquartered firm claimed to have beaten all its sales and profit targets, although the group's market share has slipped in recent months due to strong competition in the UK.

Mr Bond said: "I'm very proud to have led Asda for the past five years and helped it find a new confidence to serve its customers better.

"We have a strong leadership team that's fully engaged in the business, and I'm looking forward to working with the new chief executive to build upon the foundation we've put in place for continued success."

Prior to becoming chief executive Mr Bond acted as chief operating officer and has also led its fast-growing George clothing range.

He started at the group as a marketing manager in April 1994.