Richard Brasher, CEO of Pick n Pay
Richard Brasher, CEO of Pick n Pay

RICHARD Brasher has stepped into his role as the new CEO of Pick n Pay, the grocer announced on Friday.

Mr Brasher, Tesco’s former CE of UK operations, took the helm earlier than expected. He was set to start on Friday, but instead began on January 23.

Pick n Pay, which is implementing a turnaround strategy, embarked on an eight-month search for a new CEO following the resignation of Nick Badminton in February last year.

Equity analyst Daniel Isaacs of 36One Asset Management said: “He has just moved into the role a week earlier. I think he has got a serious job cut out for him, to turn that business around.”

Pick n Pay has lost market share to rivals Shoprite and Woolworths over the past few years as it struggled to implement changes in information and technology and distribution, while battling high costs. In October, the group reported a 34.4% decline in first-half profits.

London-based Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said Mr Brasher “was part of the team that made Tesco one of the world’s leading retailers. He is a very cerebral and likeable businessman who brings considerable intellect, experience and capability to Pick n Pay.”

London-based Panmure Gordon analyst Philip Dorgan said : “I would back him (Brasher) to have a very big impact.”

Mr Brasher joined Tesco in 1986, was appointed to its board eight years ago, and was appointed head of its UK arm in March 2011.

Following the flop of the supermarket’s Big Price Drop campaign, poor Christmas sales, a fall in market share, and rumoured tensions with Tesco CE Philip Clarke, Mr Brasher quit the company in March.

Kantar Retail director of retail research Bryan Roberts said Mr Brasher’s departure was more the result of structural change at a beleaguered business, rather than a reflection on his abilities.