Asda has appointed Stuart Rose, the Conservative peer and former boss of Marks & Spencer, as its first dedicated chairman in more than 20 years.
Lord Rose, who helped fight off a 2004 bid from former BHS and Topshop owner Sir Philip Green in his time at M&S, is a retail veteran who has had stints at the boss of Iceland, Argos and former Topshop and Miss Selfridge group Arcadia, which he sold to Green in 2002. He was chair of the online grocer Ocado until May this year.
His appointment comes nine months after the completion of the £6.8bn acquisition of Asda by private equity firm TDR Capital and Blackburn-based billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa who now co-own the UK’s third largest supermarket with US retail group Walmart. Rose will be Asda’s first dedicated chairman since the departure of Archie Norman who sold the supermarket to Walmart in 1999. Norman is now chair of Marks & Spencer.
Rose was knighted in 2008 for services to the retail industry and corporate social responsibility and was given a life peerage in 2014. He is already chair of EG Group, the petrol forecourts business which is also owned by TDR and the Issa brothers.
The peer said: “I am joining the board at a hugely exciting time, as Asda builds on the incredible resilience it has demonstrated during the pandemic and embarks on the next chapter of its evolution and growth under new ownership.”
He said the priority was to appoint a new chief executive for Asda, after the exit of Roger Burnley in the summer, and he was excited at the prospect of working with the Issa brothers to build on Asda’s heritage of food, fashion and general merchandise.
Dame Alison Carnwath, the former chair of property group Land Securities and another EG board member has been made a non-executive director of Asda. She is a trained accountant who spent time in corporate finance for Lloyds and J Henry Schroder Wagg in New York.
Mohsin and Zuber Issa said they planned to appoint further non-executive directors. “We are pleased to have Lord Rose and Dame Alison join the board of Asda. They have already provided invaluable support and wisdom to the board of EG Group, and we know their insight and experience will add huge value at Asda too. We are committed to ensuring this iconic business has the right governance and management framework in place to set it up for long-term success.”