It's been a tough year for Asda's head honcho Andy Bond. What with those pesky members of the GMB union, widespread criticism over price-cutting tactics that saw £100m wiped off the value of the banana sector alone, suppliers unhappy over demands for better prices and failure to hit his latest profit targets, Bond has had an uncomfortable first year at the helm.

In an interview this week he admits it hasn't been easy (page 36). But then leading any recovery never will be, especially when the legislative framework in which you are operating is largely prohibitive.

Losing out on Safeway was devastating. Add to this difficulties in finding sites and a limited ability to get existing customers to trade up in its core food offer and no wonder Bond is looking to new formats, such as Living, George and Essentials. At least one of these has potential for a national chain, he believes.

So is all the criticism unjust? Certainly Bond stresses that any recovery must be based on sales growth and Asda is achieving just that - and not at the expense of margin. But then it ain't seeing any margin growth, either.

And suppliers watch out - Bond has no intention of dropping the combative price stance. Indeed, he now describes Asda as the "price aggressor". But this week's announcement on sustainability, together with increased focus on fresh and organic, shows he recognises the need to reach out further if he is to deliver profit to Asda's grand ole daddy in Arkansas.

Perhaps Bond's biggest problem is that he has been hiding his light under a bushel. Whereas those other masters of recovery, Justin King and Stuart Rose, have skilfully used the media to feather their plumage, Bond has been quietly working behind the scenes. He says to judge him on his actions. We will.