Safeway replaces chief executive with former Wal-Mart director

SAFEWAY, THE struggling supermarket group, yesterday replaced Colin Smith as its chief executive with a former Wal-Mart director in an attempt to revive its flagging fortunes.

Mr Smith is giving way to Carlos Criado-Perez, who joined Safeway as chief operating officer in the summer. Mr Criado-Perez, 47, was tipped as Mr Smith's successor at the time, although the handover had not been expected to take place until next year.

When Mr Criado-Perez was appointed in August, Mr Smith was reported as saying: "I would hope to appoint him as my successor, but we are talking years. It is a rough, tough old market place, but I enjoy my job."

Mr Smith had been under pressure at Safeway for some time and his departure had been long forecast. The City appeared to welcome the news, marking the company's shares 12.5p higher to 211p. This was despite a warning from the company that its first-half profits would be around pounds 150m - at the lower end of expectations. However, the company said its trading was ahead of the industry average.

Mr Smith, 52, is expected to receive a pay-off of up to pounds 1.2m. He was employed on a two-year rolling contract and last year his total earnings were pounds 615,000, of which pounds 527,000 was basic pay. One analyst said: "I,'m sure he [Colin Smith] is a nice man but I think this move is good for the business."

Mr Smith came from an accountancy background while the City has been pushing for a recognised retailer to revitalise the chain, which is facing increasing price pressure from Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.

A spokesman for Safeway admitted that the succession had been brought forward but said: "This shows Safeway is capable of taking good, firm action in contrast to Sainsbury's, where the demotion of Dino Adriano has been a fudge." He said the decision for Mr Smith to leave was made "by mutual consent".

Mr Criado-Perez yesterday gave a firm pledge to increase Safeway's market share. He said: "At the moment we are number four [in the UK supermarket sector]. We are not looking to remain number four." He said he would be giving full details of his strategic plans at the group's interim results presentation on 25 November.

He added: "I do not want to tell our competitors what we are planning, but I can tell you that there will be substantial decentralisation. I intend to drive decisions from store level."

He said he hoped to bring more focus to the business than his predecessor. "I am a retailer. I have worked from the bottom to the top. My first job was pushing trolleys... Mr Smith is a much broader manager."

He said he perceived his former company, Wal-Mart, as "a formidable threat" to the sector. But he said: "The company has yet to demonstrate it can perform as well abroad as at home."

Paul Smiddy, food retail analyst at Credit Lyonnais Securities, welcomed the decision. "There was no point holding back with this decision.... The possibility of a conflict between Mr Smith and Mr Criado-Perez over retail strategy could have damaged the business. [Mr Criado-Perez] now has full scope to change the business quickly and radically."

Mr Criado-Perez, a keen marathon runner, was previously chief operating officer of the international operations of Wal-Mart, the US giant that acquired Asda in June.

David Webster, Safeway's chairman, said: "With all that is happening in the retail sector, we needed a change of strategy and a change of direction.... To make that happen, we needed a new face." He claimed the change was "a turning point for Safeway".

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker