Coles continue to entice UK execs to Oz

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 16th June 2008

Archie Norman, the former boss of UK retailer Asda, continues to lure high profile executives to assist Coles with their re-development.

Mr Norman has been hired as a consultant by Wesfarmers to assist with the Coles turnaround and has already been instrumental in hiring of former Asda employee Ian McLeod to the position of CEO. The Asda influence is particularly strong with announcements that former Asda colleagues, Joe Blundell and Gavin Parker, will join Mr McLeod’s team in the positions of marketing director and store format development manager respectively.

Mr Norman has reportedly dubbed the Coles challenge as the “most exciting turnaround opportunity in global retail”, and it appears that many top UK executives agree with him. According to the Daily Telegraph he has now also managed to entice Andy Coleman, the Director of Central Operations at food retailer J Sainsbury, to join the management team in August.

Jonathan Reeve, a manager in Tesco’s operations development team, has also been poached to join Coles in July, and Stuart Machin, Asda’s current operations director for the south of the UK, joins as retail director in August, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Coles, which has had difficulty keeping pace with Woolworths in recent years, is looking to the UK to improve their flagging fortunes but it is still likely to be five years before they are in a position to compete with Woolworths.

“I’m under no illusion as to the scale of challenge that we face, but I’m confident that we can rise to that challenge,” incoming CEO Mr McLeod said a few weeks ago. “This is a three to five-year transformation program, and there aren’t really any magic bullets — it’s going to be hard work and effort. I think that it’s going to be a gradual transition over time.”