Name: Richard Baker
Was: COO of Asda and CEO of Boots
Now: holds numerous non-executive roles
Career background: Baker started his grocery career as many of the industry’s high fliers did - at Mars. He worked there for 10 years, starting out as national accounts controller and progressing to head of sales for UK multiples. He then joined Asda in 1995 as business unit director. He held the roles of deputy trading director, group marketing director and chief operating officer before leaving the chain in May 2003 to take the CEO role at Boots. He stayed in that role for four years, leaving in July 2007 following a management shake-up by its owner Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
What is he doing now? Since leaving Boots, Baker has held a string of high-profile non-executive roles. He is currently chairman of Virgin Active and DFS, an operating partner for Advent International, chairman of the European advisory board of Nectar operator Aimia, and a non-executive director of Whitbread.
Biggest achievements in grocery: Baker led Boots through a £7bn merger with Alliance Unichem in 2007 to create Alliance Boots - the UK’s largest pharmacy chain. When he left the group in 2007, chairman Stefano Pessina said: “We are grateful to Richard Baker for all he has done in leading the Alliance Boots group through its merger and for all his hard work and excellent results. We are confident that he will go on to new levels of achievement in a role commensurate with his undoubted skill and ability.”
What does the future hold? Baker is regularly linked to vacant roles across retail, and while still at Boots was tipped as a possible replacement for the then-vacant CEO role at Morrisons, which was eventually filled by Marc Bolland. He may hold a number of non-exec roles, but no one is ruling out a return to grocery one day.