From 1991 to 1999 Norman led Asda’s successful turnaround, first as chief executive and then as chairman. He recognised the value of management training, which led him to recruit heavily from Mars which was renowned for its training. Robert Clark, research director at Retail Knowledge Bank, says: “Wal-Mart was the blueprint for Asda, which is why Wal-Mart bought it.” Norman is chairman of Energis and frequently linked with venture capital deals such as the rumoured move by US group KKR to buy Sainsbury.
Leighton was a key recruit of Norman’s from Mars who went on to use his skills to great effect developing Asda as a people-oriented business.
Jonathan Miller, associate director at Egremont, says: “Leighton tells it like it is and did so at Asda. Maybe it is his personality that is now emblazoned across Asda?”
This honesty and ability to cut through management-speak is proving useful in his role as chairman of Royal Mail group. As chairman of Bhs and Lastminute.com, Leighton retains his interest in retail.
Described by Michael Poynor of PWC as the Archie Norman wunderkind, Cain left Asda to join Carlton Communications as chief executive and now runs Coles Myer where he is putting together a plan to revitalise its supermarkets and drinks businesses.
This former trading director at Asda left his role there two years ago to take up the job of running Iceland.
He is due to leave his job at Iceland next month following a handover period to one of his former colleagues at Asda, Andy Clarke.
Undoubtedly one of the highest fliers from Asda’s alumni, Hornby left the retailer in 1999 and is now heading up the retail banking operations at major high street bank HBOS.
Hornby is widely viewed as making a successful job of leading the bank.
Land was Asda’s director of own label until December 2002, when she left shortly after the multiple launched a review of its own label business to become trading director at Pets at Home. Land had spent seven years at the multiple and was part of the strategy group that worked on Asda’s five-year plan in the late 1990s that steered the business towards non-food.
Mason took the supply chain and non-food expertise he’d picked up at Asda, where he was head of British operations, straight to Matalan, which he joined as chief executive in 2001. Described as Leighton’s right-hand man, his departure was a blow to Asda.
At Matalan he fell out with chairman and founder John Hargreaves and the disagreement led to his departure.
Continuing his involvement in clothing retail, Mason is currently European president of Levi Strauss & Co.
Held the job of director of global sourcing at Asda, leaving the business recently to join her husband Gavin Rees at Coles Myer.
At the Australian-based retailer they have joined another former colleague from their Asda days, Steven Cain.