(Bloomberg)—Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda unit has appointed a former Amazon.com Inc. finance director to help it turn around its struggling U.K. business, according to people familiar with the matter.
Rob McWilliam will rejoin Asda, No. 11 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Europe 500, as a part-time strategic adviser to new CEO Roger Burnley, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information is private. Burnley, now deputy CEO, steps up to his new role on Jan. 1. McWilliam initially will work just a couple of days a month, although that may be increased in the future, one of the people said.
An Asda spokesman declined to comment.
Before joining Amazon in 2013, McWilliam worked alongside Burnley at Asda during a 16-year stint at the U.K.’s third-biggest grocery chain. The 48-year-old’s tenure culminated in his becoming Walmart’s strategy chief for Europe, the Middle East and Africa after a spell as Asda’s finance director. McWilliam joined Amazon (No. 1 in the Europe 500 and the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500) as U.K. finance director before overseeing the launch of its Pantry service in the U.K., according to his LinkedIn profile.
McWilliam will be joining a business that’s under pressure. Asda’s long-held position as the lowest-priced mainstream U.K. grocer has been undermined by the rapid expansion of discounters Aldi and Lidl, which precipitated a three-year slump in sales. The ensuing price war dragged down Asda’s operating profit by 19% to 845 million pounds ($1.1 billion) last year.
McWilliam’s experience could benefit Walmart, which is trying to position itself as a rival to e-commerce powerhouse Amazon. The world’s biggest retailer (No. 3 in the Top 500) said this week that it’s changing its legal name to Walmart Inc. to reinforce this shift from bricks to clicks. It has acquired web merchants like Bonobos, ModCloth and Moosejaw over the past year to lure new online customers.Favorite