The Business On... Andy Clarke, Chief executive, Asda


So, what's up with him?

Well, he's going to get a rousing chorus of boos from the health lobby: his Asda has been the biggest booze discounter during the first stage of the World Cup, at least according to the grocery price comparison website mysupermarket.co.uk.



Any reason for this?

Well, yes. Asda needs to get people through the doors – underlying sales went into reverse in the Wal-Mart-owned chain's first quarter. We all know that one way of turning this around is by offering cheap booze, especially during the World Cup.



Is he going to feel guilty

Not likely. Clarke will say Asda is the lowest-priced supermarket in Britain and he is simply delivering value. In other words, he's a retailer right down to his toes. And he could easily argue (with some justification) that while the others have not discounted to quite the extent Asda has, it hasn't stopped them offering booze promotions of their own (and advertising them aggressively).



What's his background?

Funnily enough, he went to the same school as Andy Bond, his predecessor at the company. That was the King's School in Grantham, Lincolnshire, one of the few remaining state selective grammar schools. The two also played for the same rugby club.



Old school tie, then?

You might think that but, to be fair, Clarke was actually taken on to run Asda's Edinburgh store by the former Asda boss and business grandee, Allan Leighton. He started his career stacking shelves at the old Fine Fare and this is his second spell at Asda, having spent three years at the discount clothes retailer Matalan. What's more, Wal-Mart is an unforgiving master. If Clarke doesn't measure up he won't last long.



What's he like?

Big, but softly spoken. Those who know him says he has a good sense of humour and is comfortable with public life and the media having been on the CBI's distributive trades panel. Plays five-a-side with other Asda managers on Monday night, although rugby is his true sporting love.

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