The chief executive of Asda is to step down following a £6.8bn takeover deal for Britain’s third-biggest grocer.
The company confirmed that Roger Burnley would stay on until next year to allow a successor to be identified, moments after Sky News broke a story that he had informed its new owners of his plans to retire.
A source close to the situation had described the looming departure of the Asda chief, who has been at the helm since 2018, as “amicable”.
Mr Burnley said in a statement that it was a “personal” decision.
The sale of Asda by the American retailing behemoth Walmart was announced last autumn.
Its new owners are TDR Capital, the London-based private equity firm, and Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the two brothers who have turned EG Group into one of the world’s largest petrol forecourt and convenience store operators.
The consortium has satisfied all of the conditions relating to the deal and is working to secure approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the coming months.
The CMA is expected to order the sale of a small number of Asda’s petrol stations to third parties in order to address concerns over the scale of the Issas’ interests in the UK’s fuel retail market.
Asda’s new owners are expected to begin identifying prospective successors to Mr Burnley, who replaced Sean Clarke just over three years ago, in the coming weeks.
The chain is one of the UK’s biggest private sector employers, with more than 146,000 employees.
It trades from more than 600 supermarkets, standalone petrol stations and Asda Living homewares stores.
Most of Mr Burnley’s tenure as chief executive has been conducted in the shadow of talks about Asda’s future ownership.
In 2018, Walmart struck a £15bn deal to merge Asda with Sainsbury’s, sparking a year-long effort to get the tie-up past the CMA.
It was eventually abandoned, leading Walmart to conduct a new auction of its British subsidiary.
Mr Burnley said of his departure: “My decision to leave Asda is personal and something I wanted to communicate to my colleagues as soon as I could.
“Whilst I remain fully committed to leading this great business for the next year and delivering our strategy, it is right to plan for a managed succession process well in advance.”
Mohsin and Zuber Issa and TDR Capital jointly said: “Roger and his team have protected and enhanced an exceptionally resilient business which we are proud to own.
“Roger will continue to lead Asda over the next year and deliver the strategy that he and his leadership team have set in motion, whilst at the same time working with us on identifying his successor.”