Asda chief financial officer Judith McKenna will step into the chief operating officer role unexpectedly vacated by Simon King last week.

McKenna, who joined Asda over 15 years ago, will take over responsibility for all Asda’s retail operations, including its stores, distribution network and IT systems.

The change will take effect in September, after McKenna takes a planned extended summer break with her family.

“In the past year alone, her work leading the Netto acquisition and integration programme, which is reinventing our retail future, demonstrates that she’s the natural choice for this role,” said chief executive Andy Clarke.

The news comes after King, a former director at Tesco, last month left Asda after just six months as COO. He was followed out this week by marketing director Jon Owen.

Evolution analyst Dave McCarthy said McKenna’s promotion would bring stability to the company in a difficult time for the industry.

“McKenna has a very good reputation in the industry and is well respected across the trade, although she is not that well known by the financial community given that Asda is not a quoted company,” he said.

“She is very firm, very disciplined and runs a very tight financial ship. She is well experienced in most aspects of retail, inspires loyalty from her staff and has a good reputation for people development.”

He added: “McKenna also has an excellent understanding of retail strategy and the issues facing the sector. This is a good move by Asda.”

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