Wilson has brought in Bryan Drew, his one-time partner and co-founder of Hub Wholesale at Cheltenham, as commercial director. Drew and his team will take on responsibility for Birrell's role, along with all supply chain functions.
Drew told The Grocer that the commercial structure had been simplified, with buying controller and trading director roles removed to improve speed and efficiency. "Buyers will be renamed as category managers, taking more ownership of range, price and promotions and being less reactive," he said.
The changes come in the wake of earlier revelations that Hub had been buying some items cheaper than Booker and making a 21% margin compared with Booker's 9.5%.
Birrell will remain for at least six months as an advisor. One source said: "He is a highly respected wholesale personality and it seems to be a case of guilt by association with the past."
Wilson said Birrell's move was among the last of the senior management changes planned. The others are IT director Chris Mangham and four unnamed members of the buying team. Mangham has been replaced by Kevin Hembro, who has been promoted from the IT department. The changes follow the departure of marketing director Mark Collier and services director Steve Hogan.
The restructure ends phase one of Booker's three-pronged recovery strategy to focus, drive and broaden the business. This week Wilson said: "We are bang on plan to deliver. We've had a couple of blips on availability, but are running at 98%. We said we would have focused the business by the spring and we have done so."
Phase two is now under way and focuses on "price down, choice up, better service".
Drew said: "We have a number of activities planned, including improving our promotional activity with narrower and deeper promotions. We will concentrate on the top 200 to 300 lines, as opposed to 1,600 lines as we used to do."
Customers can now order the full range stocked by Booker's RDCs, increasing lines available to them by an average of 20%.