Burnley to Take Helm at Asda.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Walmart has appointed Roger Burnley as chief executive officer of its UJL unit, Asda Group PLC, effective January 1.
Burnley replaces Sean Clarke, who was tapped 19 months ago to stem the decline in sales and market share at the supermarket chain.
Always known for its low prices, Asda ran into difficulty when German discounters Aldi and Lidl grabbed market share after initiating a price war in the grocery sector.
Recent results are encouraging--comparable-store sales in the first half of fiscal 2018 were up 1.8%, compared to a 7% decline a year earlier, said David Cheesewright, president and CEO of Walmart International.
"We're seeing a really nice improvement there," Cheesewright said in October during a presentation to Walmart investors. "We've seen really good increases in traffic. We're now generating the most new customers of any of the big players in the U.K. We're seeing our unit growth ahead of our value growth."
The promotion of Burnley suggests that there's still work to do. Burnley had returned to Asda last year as chief operating officer after a decade-long spell at rival J Sainsbury PLC, the ILK-'s second-largest food retailer, after leseo PLC. Asda recruited Burnley with the understanding that he would succeed then-CEO Andy Clarke within two or three years. However, within a few days of Burnley's return Andy Clarke was ousted in favor of Sean Clarke (no relation), who started his retail career at Asda in 2001 and had worked across five international markets, including serving as president and CEO of Walmart China.
"Asda is a great business, and we've started to realize its potential again," said Burnley. "Sean's focus on serving customers and simplifying the business has established a firm foundation on which we can build. Since I returned to Asda last year, I have been encouraged by the passion and professionalism of our colleagues and look forward to leading this terrific team."
Clarke will remain Asda's CEO until December 31 and is working closely with Burnley to ensure a smooth transition, Cheesewright said.
Asda said it serves 18 million customers a week through its stores and website. The company operates across the United Kingdom under several store formats, including Supercenters and Superstores, supermarkets and dedicated Asda Living stores.