Roger Burnley is returning to Asda as its new chief operating officer.
Sainsbury’s retail and operations director is not expected to join Asda for some time - he’s on a year’s notice in his current role. But he will be welcomed back, said Asda CEO Andy Clarke.
“We couldn’t have got anybody with a better retail pedigree, particularly because he is a former colleague”, said Clarke. “These are times of unprecedented turbulence for our industry. Whilst we are not immune from the effects of this, we are fortunate to be part of a healthy, sustainable business with a clear strategy for success.”
Burnley will replace Mark Ibbotson, who left Asda at the start of the year to join parent company Walmart as senior vice-president - head of innovation.
Burnley worked closely with Clarke at both Asda (from 1996 to 2002) and Matalan. Speaking to The Grocer, Clarke said Burnley was “a good catch” and a “great fit”.
“I’ve taken my time to find the right candidate for the job. It’s an exciting appointment for Asda and he’s coming home so he’ll fit in very quickly. In fact the culture at Sainsbury’s is not dissimilar as he’s built a collegiate atmosphere.”
Clarke said Burnley was “a great logistician” who had taken Sainsbury’s on-shelf availability on fresh and ambient “from mid-pack to top of the pile”.
He also praised Burnley’s breadth as a leader including his influence on Sainsbury’s development of its GM and home business.
Burnley “had the ability to adapt to the ongoing evolution of the grocery market, and was able to challenge colleagues to adapt with him. Culturally he values that. He’s a strong leader. For me having another strong executive as my deputy will be invaluable. My task is to get him ready to run the business at some point.”