July 27, 2018 / 3:03 PM / 4 months ago

Asda's merchandising chief latest executive to quit business

FILE PHOTO: A worker pushes shopping trolleys at an Asda store in west London, Britain, April 28, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Asda, the British supermarket arm of Walmart (WMT.N) that has agreed to be taken over by rival Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), said on Friday Jesus Lorente, its chief merchandising officer, was leaving the business.

Lorente’s departure comes three weeks after Asda’s finance chief, Alex Russo, also quit to take up a role with discount retailer Wilko.

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second largest supermarket group, sealed a 7.3 billion pound takeover of Asda, the number three, in April, a combination that could overtake Tesco (TSCO.L) as Britain’s biggest grocery chain.

The deal is currently being probed by Britain’s regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, and if approved is not expected to complete until the second half of 2019.

Carrefour veteran Lorente had been with Asda since 2017.

Asda said his responsibilities will be divided-up. Anthony Hemmerdinger will take on a new role, senior vice president operations, with the grocer’s logistics and supply functions reporting into him. The rest of Asda’s commercial functions will report directly into Chief Executive Roger Burnley.

Burnley, CEO since January, has overseen a revival in Asda’s trading performance.

Asda has reported four straight quarters of underlying sales growth and a fifth is expected when it updates on second quarter trading on Aug. 16.

On Tuesday industry data showed Asda was the best performer of Britain’s big four supermarkets, which also includes No. 4 Morrisons (MRW.L), over the last quarter, while Sainsbury’s was the laggard.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle/David Evans

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