By Ian Neubauer

Wesfarmers has appointed Ian McLeod from the United Kingdom as managing director of Coles supermarkets, liquor and fuel and convenience businesses.

McLeod, 49, is a highly experienced retail chief executive. He played a leading role in the recovery of European supermarket chain Asda in the 1990s that led to the successful sale of the business to US retail giant Wal-Mart in 1999. He has also acted as chief executive of the Celtic Football Club and chief merchandise officer for Wal-Mart, Germany. He is currently the chief executive of the Hallfords Group.

Wesfarmers managing director, Richard Goyder, said McLeod has the international retailing expertise needed to lead the turnaround of Coles. “Ian has lived and breathed retail from his early days working with Asda stores and then through a range of managerial responsibilities encompassing merchandising, the supply chain, store operations and productivity improvement,” Goyder said.

“I said previously that the person we’d put into this job would need a track record of performance in retail, preferably including supermarkets, and would be a leader with a passion for the job, as well as possessing a demonstrable and genuine people and customer focus. Ian McLeod meets all these criteria.”

McLeod said he was pleased to have been invited to lead Coles’ transformation but refused to give detailed comment on the changes that lay ahead for the group. “It would be premature to offer any detailed comment on the Coles operation until I have had the opportunity to hear first from team members and customers on the ground,” he said.

“But from what I saw during my recent visit to Australia [the transformation] will require changes across the business. This will mean moving the focus back on to stores and away from the previous centralised and remote decision-making model. Store managers and their teams will be the most influential players in the new Coles retail operation.”

McLeod will be based in Melbourne and commence his appointment in May. He will receive a base salary of $2 million per annum plus annual and three-yearly incentives based on performance against benchmarks.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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