Asda poaches Longworth from Tesco for top PR role

Asda has poached John Longworth from arch-rival Tesco to be its top PRO. Longworth joins the retailer in November as executive board director for external affairs, reporting to president and chief executive Tony DeNunzio.

Longworth will be responsible for government relations and lobbying, consumer and employment law, consumer and corporate affairs and environmental issues.

He quit Tesco in the summer, where he was group trading law and technical director, and has since been on gardening leave.

According to an Asda spokesman, Longworth will have five direct reports. These include director of corporate affairs Christine Watts and head of government relations Bernhard Hughes, who joined from Edelman, where he was European director of public affairs (PRWeek, 20 June).

Longworth replaces corporate counsel and company secretary Denise Jagger, who is understood to have opted for a career change after 11 years at the company. During this time she played a key part in overseeing Wal-Mart’s acquisition of the chain.

Longworth joins as Asda overtakes Sainsbury to be the UK’s second biggest supermarket behind Tesco.

The company is thought to have ruled out a legal challenge to the Competition Commission’s decision to bar any of the big three grocery chains buying Safeway stores, made on the grounds that it will lead to less competition and higher prices. The ruling has paved the way for Wm Morrison to pursue its bid, on the condition that it disposes of 53 of its existing branches.

Asda has a total of 258 branches. Last month, the company launched two standalone pilot stores for its clothing brand George, building on the success of the clothing range in its supermarkets.

Asda retains Lee Publicity for consumer PR and Bell Pottinger for financial PR.

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