Asda finance chief quits after less than a year and replaced by Morrisons CFO

The finance chief of supermarket giant Asda has resigned after less than a year in the job and is being replaced by his counterpart at rival Morrisons.

Leeds-headquartered Asda, Britain’s third-largest grocer, said chief financial officer John Fallon, who was promoted to the role last June, had decided to leave the business and “take on new challenges”.

He would be succeeded by Michael Gleeson, who last month said he was stepping down from the same role at Morrisons, the number four player, headquartered in Bradford.

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Mr Gleeson would not join the business until next year, Asda added.

The finance chief of supermarket giant Asda has resigned after less than a year in the job and is being replaced by his counterpart at rival Morrisons. Picture: Asda

In the meantime Steven Nuttall, vice president commercial finance, would take on some extra responsibility in the day-to-day running of the finance function.

Mohsin Issa, co-owner of Asda, said: “I am delighted that we are able to announce that Michael Gleeson will be joining us our new chief financial officer.

“Michael brings a wealth of experience to this role, and we are looking forward to welcoming him next year.

“In the meantime, John will take on some specific projects and Steven Nuttall, VP commercial finance, will take on some extra accountability in the day-to-day running of our finance function and this will help ensure there is a smooth transition.”

Mr Fallon’s departure is the latest in a raft of senior exits from Asda since it was purchased in February 2021 by brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa and private equity company TDR Capital in a £6.8bn deal.

Asda has been without a chief executive since Roger Burnley abruptly left the group in August.

Four months ago new chairman Stuart Rose said appointing one was a priority.

The former boss of Marks & Spencer Rose, 72, also a former chairman of online supermarket Ocado, took up the chairman role at Asda on December 1.

In January, Asda said Derek Lawlor, who had led its commercial team since 2019, had left the business.

His exit followed that of chief operating officer Anthony Hemmerdinger and chief strategy officer Preyash Thakrar last September. Last month Asda said it was targeting regaining its status as Britain’s number two supermarket group as it reported a 42 per cent jump in 2021 operating profit and launched a new value range for cash-strapped shoppers.

However, monthly industry data has shown Asda underperforming industry leader Tesco and current number two player Sainsbury’s.

With Britons facing the biggest fall in living standards since at least the 1950s, the group will introduce its “Just Essentials by Asda” value range from next month.

It comprises 300 products, 50 per cent more than the “Smart Price” range it will eventually replace, spanning fresh meat, fish and poultry, bakery, frozen and cupboard staples as well as more than 20 household and toiletry products.

Asda will stock the full range in all 581 food stores, as well as online.

Asda said its total sales, excluding fuel, rose 0.5 per cent to £20.4bn in 2021.

Operating profit in 2021 rose to £693.1m from £486.5m, mainly due to a reduction in covid-19-related costs.

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