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Retailer shakes up senior marketing team after tough 2014


Asda has promoted from within as it shakes up its marketing operations.

In recent months the retail sector headlines have been dominated by the ongoing problems at Tesco, but it has not been the only brand to struggle.

True, the other retailers may not have the Serious Fraud Office investigating their accounts and nobody else has endured anything so bad as the 92 per cent plunge in profits, but Asda is one instance of a retailer that has seen some decline - as well as the prospect of 2015 being harder.

Whether it is a slight slowdown in economic growth or the fierceness of the competition low-cost operations like Lidl and Aldi are providing, Asda is certainly expecting hard going. For this reason, it is shaking up some of its most senior positions, including in marketing.

This includes the departure of Steve Smith, who is leaving his post of chief customer officer and returning to parent group Walmart, having been on assignment to Asda since 2012.

In his place will be Barry Williams, who has been promoted from his position of head of merchandising for food. Under this reorganisation Mr Williams will lead all marketing activity, while his role at Andrew Moore, who is currently the head of general merchandise and boss of the retailer's clothing arm George. George, in turn, is getting a new managing director, Nick Jones.

Discussing the moves, chief executive at Asda Andy Clarke said: "A retail business runs in cycles and as we start the year - one which promises to be the toughest year yet for our sector - I want stability at the top of the organisation through fewer, bigger leadership roles which will speed up decision-making in this highly competitive market.

"Barry has driven our food trading operation with incredible skill and passion over the past two years.  His absolute focus on doing the right things for our customers meant he was the natural choice for me to promote into the critical role of chief customer officer as Steve completes his assignment with us."

Now he is in the post, Mr Williams may turn his attention to trying to create more of a brand personality for Asda, something Mr Smith recently suggested is particularly difficult to do in an interview with Marketing Magazine. 

If the staffing changes and a new approach to marketing help Asda improve its performance in terms of sales, revenues and profits in 2015, they will obviously be deemed a success. While much of that may be attributed to the skills of the individuals holding these posts, it would also be an endorsement of the company's willingness to promote talent from within.

If Asda sees a positive uplift this year as a result of these internal changes, it might encourage more employers to promote more from within their marketing departments.

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