The chief executive is preparing to step down following WalMart’s criticism of the UK businesses’ poor performance.
The move comes as bosses at the retailer’s US owner, WalMart, criticised Asda for a continuing sales slump, admitting they are unsure when and how the UK chain will enjoy an upturn in fortunes.
Andy has indicated that he will be succeeded by Sainsbury’s Roger Burnley, who is set to join the company in October. Asda poached Roger from Sainsbury’s last year, where he was retail and operations director. He also did a stint at Asda between 1996 and 2002, where he was supply chain director.
Andy commented: “I said that I wanted to find somebody who had the ability to be my successor and it took us some time to find the right person, the right cultural fit, the right sort of character and leader that can run the business. Roger is a great leader and he’s going to be a great colleague. I look forward to spending time with him and preparing him for what hopefully should be his next role. I’m in no rush to do anything else, and we are on a three-year journey from a strategic plan perspective. I’m very happy to deliver that and work through that and then we can talk about that from there.”
Last month, Asda posted a 5.7% slump in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to 30th March, also suffering a 5.8% drop in quarterly sales over the Christmas period. In an attempt to boost its performance, Asda is undergoing Project Renewal, which involves pumping £500m into cutting prices for shoppers.
Last week, Walmart International’s chief executive Dave Cheesewright raised the prospect of further price cuts, saying that the company would look to “shift the balance in Asda from protecting profit to protecting share”. One senior Walmart executive also said he was very disappointed with Asda’s performance, and that there were things that could be done better.
Back in August last year, Andy insisted that Asda had reached its “nadir” after its worst sales performance since Walmart’s takeover, more than a decade and a half ago. However, analysts say that his departure shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that Walmart has admitted defeat in the UK. Instead, it may be planning a fresh offensive, if comments from the head of its international arm have been understood correctly.