Asda strengthens top team with Tesco hire

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The UK's second-biggest supermarket, Asda, has further strengthened its top team with the hiring of a former Tesco executive as chief operating officer. Simon King, who is currently the chief executive of the supermarket operator Panda Retail, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabia-based Savola Group, will join Walmart-owned Asda in January.

As chief operating officer, Mr King's responsibilities will include retail, supply chain, including distribution, and customer service.

The hiring of Mr King – who was chief executive of Tesco's Kipa chain in Turkey until last year – completes the reshuffle of Asda's executive management team, following a series of changes this year.

In May, Andy Clarke, the former chief operating officer, took the helm as chief executive of the grocer. This followed the surprise move by Andy Bond, Asda's previous chief executive, to become its part-time chairman. In August, the 382-store retailer hired Charles Redfield, the senior vice-president for food and beverage at Walmart's wholesale business, Sam's Club, as chief merchandising officer (CMO). Darren Blackhurst, the previous CMO, had quit in May after being overlooked for the top job.

Mr Clarke said yesterday that in his career Mr King had demonstrated "his talents as both a strategic leader and a day-to-day operator in large, complex retail businesses". He added: "I know he shares a commitment to people and delivering for customers. I'm looking forward to the contribution I know he'll make here at Asda."

Mr King, who previously also ran a number of Tesco's international operations including in South Korea, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, joins Asda at a difficult time for the grocer. This year, Asda's underlying sales, excluding fuel, have lagged behind its big three rivals, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco. Asda's sales on stores open at least one year fell by 0.4 per cent for the three months to 30 June.