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19 Mar 2021 | 08:52

Asda seeks new CEO as Roger Burnley signals departure

(Sharecast News) - Asda is looking for a new boss after Roger Burnley said he would leave the supermarket chain in 2022 following its £6.8bn takeover by a private equity firm and the Issa brothers. Burnley became chief executive of the UK's third-biggest grocer in January 2018 and steered it through the sale by former US parent Walmart to TDR Capital and the entrepreneur siblings.

Asda said its new owners had a five-year strategy and wanted to appoint a CEO for the long term. The company announced the news on Thursday evening.

Burnley, 54, said: "My decision to leave Asda is personal and something I wanted to communicate to my colleagues as soon as I could. Whilst I remain fully committed to leading this great business for the next year and delivering our strategy, it is right to plan for a managed succession process well in advance."

Asda struggled in recent years as it was squeezed by the German discounters Aldi and Lidl and a revitalised Tesco at the budget end of the supermarket sector. After a sale to Sainsbury's was blocked on competition grounds Walmart sold to TDR and the Issas, the petrol station and convenience stores tycoons, while keeping a small stake.

Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said: "Some shrewd judges thought the Asda boss Roger Burnley would be leaving anyway, because of the underperformance of the business, but the takeover by the Issa brothers seems to have sealed his fate."

Like the other supermarket groups, Asda has reported strong sales during the Covid-19 crisis as people have spent more on food and drink for home consumption with restaurants and pubs shut. Sales at existing operations increased 6.9% in the eight weeks before Christmas.

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