Asda hires heavy hitter to take on the discounters

Andy Murray is joining Asda as its new marketing supremo
Andy Murray is joining Asda as its new marketing supremo
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ASDA is parachuting in a heavy hitter from parent company Wal-Mart to help it win back customers who have deserted to cheaper rivals Aldi and Lidl.

Andy Murray, dubbed a "global retail marketing expert", will join Asda next week as the Leeds-based company slashes prices in a bid to reduce the price difference between Asda and the German discounters.

Mr Murray, who will relocate to Harrogate, will replace Asda veteran Barry Williams as chief customer officer.

An insider said: "Barry was a trader at heart, but he was brought in last year to run the marketing function. Barry has been talking to Andy Clarke (Asda's CEO) about whether this was the right role for him. This is Barry's choice and timing. He's leaving with his head held high and he will doubtless turn up in another trading role.

"Andy Murray is a marketeer of some renown. Britain is the most competitive market in the world and Andy is a really strong appointment."

Asda has shunned the discounting and vouchering of its rivals in a bid to preserve profits at a time when competitors have announced steep falls in earnings.

However last month it announced a further £500m investment in price cuts in addition to the already announced £1bn price cutting programme as it attempts to stem the tide of customers to Aldi and Lidl, which are on average 10 per cent cheaper than the big four supermarkets

Mr Clarke said: "Andy Murray's deep understanding of global retail trends, creative marketing and customers' shopping habits will bring a new dimension to our strategy to overhaul our offer, merchandising and value proposition and transform of our stores, starting with the largest 95 stores.

"Barry has done a fantastic job focusing our marketing and customer strategy in the right direction and Andy is the right person to lead its implementation and future development."

Asda said Mr Murray's appointment will complete Mr Clarke's changes to his executive board, which will be joined by Sainsbury's Roger Burnley in October.