Lidl director to lead butchers through growth

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Butchers chain Crawshaw 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.

Mr Collett has spent 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, Mr 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.”

Rotherham-based Crawshaw currently has 23 stores, after opening outlets in Sheffield and at its factory and head office location in Rotherham. Its plans will boost it from small regional player to nationwide chain.

Finance director Lynda Sherratt told The Yorkshire Post the company is targeting between 10 and 20 openings next year. Growth will initially be focused in the North and serviced by its Rotherham distribution centre, which can support 60 stores.

Ms Sherrat said Mr Collett has experience working with a volume retailer and leading significant expansion. “It’s directly relevant to what we have planned for growing to 200 stores,” she said.

Current managing director Kevin Boyd will remain with the company, she added.

Crawshaw has seen strong results in recent periods, posting 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.

WH Ireland head of research John Cummins welcomed the appointment. 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.

“The appointment of an experienced professional as chief executive was clearly a key element in delivering the group’s ambitious growth plan.”

The broker maintained its buy recommendation for the AIM-listed firm.

This year, Crawshaw Group raised £9m through a share placing to support its plans. Two placings were approved in July, raising gross proceeds of £8.8m from the issue of 20,999,994 shares at 5p each.