Asda executives leave amid £5bn quarterly sales

Leeds-based supermarket giant Asda announced that its chief operating officer Anthony Hemmerdinger and strategy officer Preyash Thakrar have both left the business as the group announced yet more executive changes and published its sales figures for its first full quarter under new ownership.

Same-store sales excluding fuel fell 0.7% to £5.005 billion in the quarter to June, down slightly from last year’s peak during the pandemic.

Sales in the quarter were up 3.1% from the same period in 2019 before the pandemic.

“Meg Farren, chief customer officer, is soon to join the business from KFC and earlier this year we appointed Sam Dickson from Waitrose as VP of own brand, and Carl Dawson from M&S as chief information officer,” said Asda.

“The business continues to benefit from a strong, capable internal team, supported by the shareholder group.”

Blackburn-based billionaires the Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital completed the £6.8 billion acquisition of a majority ownership stake in Asda from Walmart Inc. in February.

Walmart retains an equity investment in Asda, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board.

The Issa brothers made their fortune building up fuel retailer EG Group.

Asda is still searching for a new chief executive — with some reports claiming that former Asda executive Ian McLeod, currently running Asian food retailer Dairy Farm, could return to the UK to take up the role.

“Q2 like-for-like sales (LFL), excluding fuel, declined by 0.7% between 1st April and 30th June 2021 compared with the exceptional sales seen during the first lockdown in the same period last year …” said Asda.

“Two-year LFL sales growth excluding fuel remained resilient, up 3.1% as more meals continued to be consumed at home …

“28 new Asda on the Move convenience stores will open on EG Group forecourts this year with a target of 200 by the end of next year and the ambition to roll out more sites in 2023.”

Mohsin Issa and Zuber Issa said: “The Asda business has proved incredibly resilient in 2021, as customers continue to eat more at home and enjoy food which is both fantastic quality and great value.

“Our plans to rollout Asda On the Move will bring Asda to new customers, enabling them to pick up food-to-go, essentials for an evening meal, or treat themselves to premium Extra Special products from a range of convenient locations.

“We continue to see significant opportunities to drive innovation across the business and we look forward to working with the Asda team to execute our growth strategy.”

Asda chief finance officer John Fallon said: “As customers responded to the gradual easing of social distancing restrictions, we inevitably saw sales soften compared to the exceptional lockdown-driven demand experienced during the first quarter.

“Nevertheless, the continued resilience our business has been demonstrated in the positive like-for-like sales growth compared with the same period in 2019, as we were able to take advantage of a higher level of in-home consumption, satisfying customers’ needs across both food and non-food.

“Looking ahead to the rest of the year, the first phase of the rollout of Asda On the Move is an exciting next step for the business, enabling us to supply a new convenience store offer, complementing our other store formats.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.