Investors have expressed surprise today over the exit of Asda’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Simon King yesterday after just six months in the job.
Appointed in November and starting his role January, King has stepped down from the position previously held by current CEO Andy Clarke for unspecified reasons.
When he was hired, Clarke praised King for his strategic qualities as well as his strength in running day-to-day operations and it seems few were expecting this announcement.
Clive Black, Analyst at investment banking group Shore Capital, commented: “Simon’s departure has come as a surprise to us given his short tenure at Asda.
“We are not privy to the detail of his exit but it suggests that one party or the other was not happy; maybe he has another offer he can’t refuse.
Before taking up the COO position King had worked for Tesco in Turkey, South Korea and eastern Europe and had also spent time at Safeway.
Asda are expected to announce a replacement for King by the end of this month.
A statement released by Asda said: “Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. Clearly whilst Simon has considerable talents and retail experience, we felt his impact wasn’t being realised as quickly as we hoped.
“We wish him well for the future and appreciate all his hard work over the past five months.”
Like most players in the grocery sector this year, Asda has been seeing marginal growth in sales as margins are squeezed and consumers have less to spend.
Since taking charge last year, Clarke has been fighting a battle to fight off competition from rival Sainsbury’s to maintain its position as the UK’s second largest grocer.
Black added: “Asda has a young and reasonably new CEO in Andy Clarke and the business has had a lot of managerial change recently.
“I’m sure that the business would have preferred for Simon to hang around longer but he hasn’t and it has to get on with things.”