Roger Burnley will become the first Yorkshireman to take the helm at Asda in over 30 years when he takes up the chief executive’s role on January 1.
Now living in Huddersfield with his wife, son and daughter, Mr Burnley was born in Dewsbury and describes himself as a “born and bred Yorkshireman”. He attended Heckmondwike Grammar School.
He is a non-executive director of Huddersfield Town FC and is a lifelong season ticket holder at the club.
Mr Burnley, 51, is highly regarded in the industry and analysts welcomed his appointment.
He is seen as one of the “Asda Mafia” – the crew who worked under Archie Norman and Allan Leighton in Asda’s turnaround years.
“I’m fiercely proud of being a Yorkshireman,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
During his time at Sainsbury’s Mr Burnley spent weekends at home in Huddersfield – particularly when his beloved Huddersfield Town were playing.
Mr Burnley, whose father was a barrister’s clerk in Leeds, first joined Asda in 1997, before being headhunted by Matalan in 2002. He said he enjoyed the move to a much smaller organisation, but he returned to the supermarket arena in 2006 as Sainsbury’s supply chain director.
He rejoined Asda last year as chief operating officer with the expectation he would become chief executive over time, but his accession was faster than the market had expected.
He is known for working hard but for being accessible to colleagues.
“It helps if you don’t need much sleep,” he said.
“Six hours is fine for me.”
Mr Burnley will work alongside outgoing CEO Sean Clarke over the all-important Christmas period.
Following his appointment to the top job on Monday, Mr Burnley said: “Asda is a great business and we’ve started to realise its potential again.
“Sean’s focus on serving customers and simplifying the business has established a firm foundation on which we can build.
“Since I returned to Asda last year, I have been encouraged by the passion and professionalism of our colleagues and look forward to leading this terrific team.”
Asda has seen a return to growth after several tough years. Its sales have been boosted by strong demand for its value-focused Farm Stores line and its premium Extra Special range.
It reported its first positive sales growth in three years last month, driven by food price inflation and lower prices. It said like-for-like sales rose 1.8 per cent in the three months to June 30.
Last month the group axed hundreds of staff from its head office in Leeds as it cuts costs amid fierce competition in the supermarket sector.
Asda said the bulk of the 300 job losses were in Leeds. A further 800 staff had the scope of their job descriptions changed as part of the shake-up.