Yorkshireman Roger Burnley is to return to Asda as chief executive following the decision by Andy Clarke to step down.
Mr Burnley, who left his job as Sainsbury’s retail and operations director last October, will take over as Leeds-based Asda’s chief operating officer in four months time.
Mr Clarke, who has not given a time frame for his departure, was appointed chief operating officer at Asda in 2007, three years before he took on the chief executive’s role.
Mr Clarke started looking for a chief operating officer in January after making changes to the executive board.
Asda described Mr Burnley as “a highly regarded and experienced retailer”.
He has previously worked alongside Mr Clarke at both Asda and Matalan before he joined Sainsbury’s, where he was responsible for the performance of 160,000 staff across superstores, convenience stores and logistics.
“We couldn’t have got anybody with a better retail pedigree than Roger, particularly because he is a former colleague,” Mr Clarke said after announcing Mr Burnley’s appointment last year.
“These are times of unprecedented turbulence for our industry. Whilst we are not immune from the effects of this, we are fortunate to be part of a healthy, sustainable business with a clear strategy for success.“
Mr Burnley, who hails from Dewsbury, describes himself as a “born and bred Yorkshireman”.
He attended Heckmondwike Grammar School and his family home is in Huddersfield.
He worked at Asda between 1996 and 2002, latterly as supply chain director prior to which he was part of the core team responsible for integrating Asda into American parent Wal-Mart following the acquisition in 1999.
Mr Burnley will not be able to join Asda until October as Sainsbury’s is a direct competitor to Asda. The pair jostle for position as second and third biggest grocer after Tesco. With this in mind, Sainsbury’s has decided keep him to his 12 month notice period and he is currently on gardening leave.
Mr Burnley is seen as one of the “Asda Mafia” – the crew who worked under Archie Norman and Allan Leighton in Asda’s turnaround years.
“I’m fiercely proud of being a Yorkshireman,” he told the Yorkshire Post.
During his time at Sainsbury’s Mr Burnley spent weekends at home in Huddersfield – particularly when his beloved Huddersfield Town were playing.
Mr Burnley, whose father was a barrister’s clerk in Leeds, joined Asda in 1996, where he was appointed head of logistics development and then director of supply. In 2002 he was head-hunted by Matalan where he was appointed supply chain director.