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Blow for Asda as Iceland gets executive star catch in Coupe.

Brain drain continues as Coupe takes over as managing director

The defection of Asda's trading director to Iceland is the latest in a series of board departures, marking a continual brain drain from the supermarket chain.

Mike Coupe, who takes over from Russell Ford as managing director at Iceland, is being hailed by CEO Bill Grimsey as a real catch for the frozen food chain.

Coupe had been tipped by some industry watchers as one of the potential successors to Allan Leighton, previous to Paul Mason's promotion, and the move is another blow for Asda which prides itself on its young, thrusting directors.

Head of hypermarkets Justin King left to head up Marks and Spencer's food business earlier this year, following the departure of Archie Norman and Allan Leighton as well as clothing guru George Davis.

Coupe had been with Asda since 1993 and had been on the board since 1998. He has previously worked for both Unilver and Tesco.

However, an Asda spokeswoman insisted it would have no impact on the business. "We're always very good at generating cracking homegrown talent." She added: "We have the best management team in the retail industry and we're not surprised that other people look to them for leadership."

Coupe's name is already off the in-house telephone directory and marketing director Richard Baker has stepped in to replace him.

Asda is now hunting for his successor. Baker has been with the chain since 1995 and was responsible for Rollback and the launch of Smart Brand Extra Special.

One industry watcher commented: "It's really positive for Iceland and the fact that they can attract someone with his background is a good appointment.

"Bill Grimsey is a good people person and doesn't find it difficult to get good staff."

A City analyst added: "They're probably paying Coupe a fair whack to go and work in Chester for a company like that."
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Title Annotation:International Pages; Iceland Foods PLC
Comment:Blow for Asda as Iceland gets executive star catch in Coupe.(Iceland Foods PLC)(International Pages)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 7, 2001
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