Between December 2022 and January 2024, Walker served as vice president and property group director at Asda, having been employed by the company since February 2017. Prior to joining the firm, Walker worked as Lidl UK regional director and then chief operating officer.
He has replaced Andy Perry, who joined Asda to run the convenience business it acquired from the Co-op in October 2022 while the Competition and Market Authority’s ‘hold separate’ notice was in place. Under the terms of this notice, Asda could not take operational control of these stores until regulatory consent was received.
In September 2023, Perry agreed to extend his stay at Asda to lead the conversion programme of the former Co-op sites, as well as the EG Group sites it has since acquired. Asda began converting these 470 stores to the Asda Express branding in October 2023 and plans to convert 110 stores in February 2024 alone.
As of the end of January 2024, Asda has converted 259 sites and opened eight new stores from scratch. The firm said it remains on course to convert all stores by the end of March 2024, after which Perry will leave the business.
With the conversion process nearly complete, an Asda spokesperson confirmed to Food Manufacture that it was creating a new dedicated team with a sole focus on the "Asda Express convenience business moving forwards”. The team will be led by Walker as managing director, who will be supported by two senior directors.
The purchase of EG Group’s UK business last year also included the transfer of 462 Greggs, Burger King and Subway outlets as franchise agreements.
Previously discussing the group’s interest in the convenience sector, Perry said: “Asda’s significant investment in building a nationwide chain of convenience stores is a key component of our long-term strategy to become the number two player in UK grocery.”