Wal-Mart Stores on Monday said that Sean Clarke would take over as CEO of its struggling Asda division in the United Kingdom as part of a shuffle of senior leaders in its International division.
Sean Clarke, currently CEO of Walmart Asia, will succeed Andy Clarke at the head of Asda effective July 11. Andy Clarke, who has served that role Asda for six years, will remain with the company as an advisor through the remainder of the year.
Asda is the only one of Walmart's 11 International markets to have not posted positive comparable-store sales in the first quarter, and has fallen behind rivals like Tesco and Sainsbury in responding to increased competition to hard discounters Aldi and Lidl. International CEO David Cheesewright earlier this month said the company was "very disappointed" with its results in the U.K.
The company in a statement said Andy Clarke, a 20-year veteran of Asda, "has decided the timing is right to step aside."
"Andy has been a key contributor to Walmart’s success in the U.K., one of the world’s most competitive retail markets. Andy and his leadership team have played a key role in several innovations in the marketplace, such as grocery home delivery and pickup. He has also served as a strong leader for the business during a time of increased competition and heightened customer expectations," the company said.
Sean Clarke, no relation to Andy Clarke, is one of Walmart's most experienced international executives. He began his retail career at Asda in 2001 and previously led divisions in Japan, Canada and China. Cheesewright said his leadership would "build upon the momentum of Project Renewal and reposition the business in a very competitive marketplace."
Walmart also confirmed that Roger Burnley will be named deputy CEO of Asda when he rejoins the business in October. Burnley previously served Asda between 1996 and 2002 and was a key member of the team integrating the business following its acquisition by Walmart. Burnley, currently chief operating officer of Asda, is currently on leave. He is also a former top executive of Asda rival Sainsbury.
Concurrent with this move Dirk Van De Berghe, currently president and CEO of Walmart Canada, will take over leadership of the Walmart China business, effective Aug. 22 pending work authorization. In addition, Van De Berghe will also serve as regional president for Asia, including Walmart Japan. Walmart said Van De Berghe strengthened the growing food business in Canada.
The company said it would a new leader for Walmart Canada shortly.
This move will allow Scott Price, currently president and CEO Walmart Asia to focus exclusively on his additional role as chief administrative officer of Walmart International.
“Actively managing our global business portfolio is a key element of our international strategy, and we must have the right talent in place to lead our businesses through times of change," Cheesewright said in a statement.
“Together with the existing Asda executive team, Sean and Roger will serve as an incredibly powerful team to lead our Asda business," he added. "Their complementary skills and combined expertise in the U.K. retail market and globally brings an unrivaled breadth of retail knowledge to Asda.”
“Rejoining Asda at such a critical point in the development of the U.K. retail market is both a challenge and a privilege," Sean Clarke said. "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.”
Roger Burnley added: “Asda is a business I know well, and one I’m excited to rejoin at a critical time in its history. I’ve always admired Asda’s passionate colleagues, relentless focus on the customer and its ability to reposition itself in a crowded marketplace. Being part of the world’s largest retailer also presents a huge personal opportunity to work alongside world-class talent, including Sean. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
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