Crawshaw appoints Lidl chief operating officer to lead expansion

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Butchers chain Crawshaw Group has brought in Lidl’s UK chief operating officer to lead the business as it continues with ambitious growth plans.

Noel Collett will become chief executive of the firm from March 1 2015. The appointment comes as the group pushes ahead with its proposed growth to 200 store in the next eight years.

Collett has spent the last 12 years as chief operating officer in Lidl’s UK business. He previously spent four years working in senior roles for the discounter in the UK and Germany.

During his time at Lidl, Collett oversaw a tripling of Lidl’s stores from 200 to 600, with annual sales of more than £4bn and a workforce of 14,000.

As part of this, he introduced an improved fresh-food offering, including a fresh meat and poultry range, throughout its UK outlets. He also assisted the brand transformation from budget to high-value quality retailer.

Richard Rose, chairman of Crawshaw, said: “Noel brings a wealth of value retailing experience along with expertise in business strategy, brand development and business transformation during periods of rapid portfolio and sales growth.

“We are excited by Noel’s appointment and look to the future with great confidence as the business embarks on a period of accelerated store expansion throughout the UK.”

Collett said Crawshaw has a “unique” business model and ambitious growth plans. “I am really looking forward to joining a great team,” he added.

Rotherham-based Crawshaw currently has 22 stores but its plans will boost it from small regional player to nationwide chain.

It posted a 12 per cent rise in its half year like-for-like sales in October. Total sales rose 20 per cent to £11.8m in the six months to July 31, with £500,000 generated from new stores and more than £200,000 from its premium sector shop which it bought in May.

The firm said trading is strong across its store portfolio as cash-strapped customers switch to Crawshaw’s multi-pack deals.

WH Ireland analyst John Cummins said this morning’s annoucement is “highly positive”.

He said: “We view this morning’s announcement as being highly positive in the next stage of development of Crawshaw given his experience in the successful roll out of a major value focused food retail brand.

“Although Crawshaw has developed a very successful concept across its portfolio of 22 stores, the appointment of an experienced professional as chief executive was clearly a key element in delivering the group’s ambitious growth plan of taking the estate to over 200 stores in the next eight years.”