Wal-Mart Enlists China CEO To Save U.K. Unit
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has replaced its U.K. Asda chain head Andy Clarke with Sean Clarke, who was leading the China unit, the company announced Monday.
Sean Clarke, who started his retail career in the U.K. at Asda back in 1996, will take over Andy Clarke’s position on July 11. S. Clarke’s deputy CEO will be Roger Burnley, who will join Asda from competitor J Sainsbury plc (ADR) (OTC: JSAIY) in October.
“Sean’s leadership will allow Asda to build upon the momentum of Project Renewal and reposition the business in a very competitive market place,” Wal-Mart said in a press release.
Bloomberg reported, “Wal-Mart’s move shows that Andy Clarke is ‘out of the loop’ at Asda, Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said Bloomberg by e-mail. ‘They’ve clearly decided they can’t wait for Burnley to get his feet under the desk to make a move to replace Andy.'”
The report continued, saying A. Clarke’s departure “represents another boardroom victim of the surge of discounters Aldi and Lidl. Within the last two years, all four of Britain’s biggest grocers have changed CEOs amid a price war that’s cut profits across the once-stable industry.”
“People have been calling for Andy Clarke’s head for a long time,” said Richard Clarke, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein told Bloomberg. “As the performance of all of the other U.K. supermarkets has gotten better, Asda’s has gotten worse.”
“Rejoining Asda at such a critical point in the development of the UK retail market is both a challenge and a privilege. After spending the last 15 years in Walmart’s global retail markets, I’m looking forward to returning to the business that got me hooked on grocery retail,” S. Clarke said in a statement.
Wal-Mart has announced Dirk Van den Berghe, the head of Wal-Mart’s Canadian unit, will now lead its China unit effective August 22. He will take on the responsibility of the entire Asia region, while Scott Price, the current head of Asia, will work exclusively as the chief administrative officer of Wal-Mart International.