Bookies install Asda duo to replace Bond

TWO senior Asda executives have been installed as the favourites to succeed Andy Bond as chief executive.

The Leeds-based supermarket group’s finance director Judith McKenna and chief operating officer Andy Clarke are being tipped as the main contenders for the position.

Ms McKenna has been installed as the 6/4 favourite to replace Mr Bond by Paddy Partners, ahead of Mr Clarke at 2/1.

Trading director Darren Blackhurst is at 9/4 with the same bookmaker, while Asda’s owner Wal-Mart’s head of grocery Jack Sinclair, a former retailer at both Tesco and Safeway, is at 6/1.

Outsiders include Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, Marc Bolland, the recently appointed Marks & Spencer chief executive, and Sir Stuart Rose.

Deputy Editor Ian Briggs blogs on Andy Bond’s decision to step down. To read the blog, click here.

Mr Clarke, 46, was previously Asda’s retail director and is favourite to take the job with other bookmakers, while Ms McKenna has experience of filling in for Mr Bond at events.

Asda announced yesterday that Mr Bond is to step down as its chief executive to take on a part-time role as non-executive chairman. It is a role that has been created for him.

The role will be filled “soon” Asda said, with the decision to step down being Mr Bond’s himself.

Mr Bond is to give a presentation to analysts on Thursday about Asda’s future strategy and it was felt it would be more appropriate to announce his decision before that meeting, Asda said.

The completion of Mr Bond’s three phase five-year business plan is being cited as a major reason for him deciding to step down.

Mr Bond, who has led Asda for the past five years and been with the company for 16 years, will remain as chief executive until a successor is found.

Asda reported record results in 2009 but its market share in the UK has dipped in recent months because of competition.

Meanwhile, shares in Argos owner Home Retail Group have surged following speculation of a potential bid from Asda.

Home Retail’s shares jumped 14p to 294.2p yesterday after it was identified as a possible Asda target.

Asda, which has 371 stores, 23 depots and 24 Asda Living outlets across the UK, is keen to close the gap on leader Tesco.

Home Retail has 744 Argo stores and 349 Homebase outlets.