Safeway's property director Gordon Wotherspoon has left in the wake of the company's decision to scale back its store opening programme. The multiple will in future continue to open new stores "in a small number of carefully selected sites". That change in focus has resulted in 60 people leaving Safeway as part of a reorganisation of its property and development division, leaving a team of just under 100. Wotherspoon is the highest profile casualty of the change, which was instigated by Safeway's chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez when he took over from Colin Smith at the end of last year. Criado-Perez believes the multiple needs to focus on improving the performance of its existing portfolio. In particular he wants to drive up its sales per square foot. "We are selling about 30% less than the market average," he told The Grocer. Wotherspoon, who had been with Safeway for more than 30 years, was praised for being "responsible for developing our first class superstore network". The division will now be headed by Martin Baker who will report to group services director Richard Williams. A key role for Baker will be making the changes necessary in stores to underpin the best in fresh programme that Criado-Perez believes will help deliver the levels of sales growth he wants. {{NEWS }}

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