LONDON — Asda, Wal-Mart's European division, plans to lay off 1,400 workers in a bid to cut costs and regain its share of the intensely competitive U.K. market.
Some 200 management jobs will be phased out at the company's head office in Yorkshire, and 1,200 retail management positions at Asda stores will be cut in order to focus on frontline customer service. Asda employs 140,000 people in the U.K.
"It's as if we woke up, looked in the mirror and realized we'd gotten flabby," said Andy Bond, who took over as president and chief executive officer in March. "We have to get fit, and that's a painful process. Moreover, we don't want to gain back the extra pounds."
Bond said at a press conference Tuesday that the costs of running a major retail chain were climbing at a dizzying rate. "Next year, fixed costs will be circa 20 percent higher than last year for all retailers. The treadmill for running a business is getting steeper."
Bond said he wasn't satisfied with Asda's "average performance" this year. "Our natural home is out performance, and today's changes put in place the teams that will reignite our business over the next 12-18 months."
Bond added he was confident about Asda's smaller supermarket formats, the stand-alone George stores, and the future of nonfood. "I see nonfood as part of the overall reason of why people want to shop at Asda," he said.
The press conference was held at the new London design studio Asda has opened for George, its $1.76 billion, or 1 billion pound, clothing and accessories label. The company is reinforcing the infrastructure behind George, with the goal of turning it into an international fashion brand.
Bond also disclosed several management changes. David Cheesewright, 43, who served for 12 months as chief operating officer of Wal-Mart in Canada, will become chief operating officer and trading director at Asda. Cheesewright replaces Bond, who left that role to become president and ceo. Cheesewright will begin Oct. 1.
Andy Clarke, 41, will return to Asda as retail director, a position he left in 2002 to work at Matalan and Iceland. Clarke, who will also be responsible for Asda's financial services business, will begin Sept. 1.
Steve Aoki held a presentation, a runway show and outdoor concert for his men's line Dim Mak. Here's a look from his spring 2018 collection, which was titled "Paradise Found." #wwdfashion #wwdmens (📷: George Chinsee)
"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)