Former Asda boss Allan Leighton said this week he believed the UK's grocery industry was healthier than it had ever been - and rubbished suggestions that Asda parent company Wal-Mart was unhappy with current chief executive Andy Bond's performance.

Speaking to The Grocer ahead of the launch of his new book, On Leadership, Leighton - famous for his double act with former Asda chairman Archie Norman in the 1990s - said: "It's quite unique that all four players are doing pretty well. Historically, two have done well and two have done badly. There's quite a bit of inflation, which helps.

"But three are under new leadership. I think that the reason everyone may be doing so well is that everybody, for their brand, is in the right place."

Leighton, now chairman of Royal Mail, dismissed suggestions that Andy Bond's tenure as Asda boss was under threat.

"Bondy is a very good guy and has made a huge difference in that business," he said. "He has a model that is hugely effective and they've clearly had a very good 12 months. My intuition is that the core business is back to where it needs to be."

The numbers never lied, he argued.

"What's happened to the sales? What's happened to the EBIT? What's happened to the market share? If you can tick all three boxes, which I think Andy can, that's pretty damned good. That's a hat-trick.

"The people in the business like him a lot. Lee Scott [Wal-Mart chief executive] also rates him, I rate him and Archie Norman rates him."

Leighton, who was this week contending with the threat of a national postal strike, was also complimentary about Morrisons, revealing that Sir Ken Morrison was among the industry figures he admired most.

"Ken's strength was cost, and cost not in the sense that he was a cost-cutter, but in the sense that he understood the need to really control the cost base. Ken was the guy we looked up to and still do."

Leighton denied he had been interested in making a takeover bid for Sainsbury's - and refused to be drawn on whether he planned to return to UK grocery.