Blog: Dean BestAsda tries to prove it is not under a cloud

Dean Best | 15 April 2010

Thanks to a rogue volcano in Iceland, spewing out an ash cloud that has grounded all flights in the UK, (I thought we wanted our cash back? With a 'c'?) some here feel a wee bit isolated today (15 April).

Executives and analysts who have travelled to the UK for Wal-Mart's latest "field trip" - this time to local arm Asda - face a delayed return home.

Andy Bond, Asda's old CEO but new chairman of the executive committee, tried to soothe any annoyance among his audience by saying the extended stay would be a great chance to watch "political history" - as the UK awaits tonight's first-ever, live televised debate between the main political leaders. (They are really up for this election at Asda, aren't they?).

Of more immediate interest was Bond's comments on Monday's news that he was to step down as Asda CEO after five years. Did he jump or was he pushed?

It was, Bond insisted, his decision. Those words were echoed by Wal-Mart CFO Tom Schoewe who had flown in for the event.

There may always be some cyncism over whether Bond did decide to step down but, in a way, that is, already, history.

Bond and Asda are looking to the future, with plans to ramp the number of smaller food stores in its estates, an ambition to become the UK's number one non-food retailer and to further build its presence online.

Asda also intends to refocus on everyday low prices (EDLP), Bond said, although he acknowledged that, in a fiercely competitive market, that was a message clouded by a plethora of promotions.

The retailer will hope it is a cloud easier to break through than one containing volcanic ash.



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