Watts claimed her exit was unconnected to the 1,400 management redundancies announced by Asda this week, adding she was on 'gardening leave'. However, PRWeek understands that Asda will not be seeking a direct replacement.
'I have been considering my position for some months,' said Watts. 'My departure is by mutual agreement and I left the company last week before the redundancies were announced. I am currently considering a number of other options.' Asda general manager of public relations Nick Agarwal said: 'We are still working through the management restructure, but there is currently no news on whether there will be a direct replacement for Christine.' He added that in the interim her responsibilities would be shared between himself and a number of other senior members of the team. The company said the management cuts did not affect the comms function.
The management restructure is a cost-cutting exercise by new CEO Andy Bond, who has described the retailer as 'flabby and overweight'. The chain is also fighting off a resurgent Sainsbury's.
Around 200 job cuts will come from the Leeds HQ; the rest will be middle-management posts at supermarkets.
Before joining Asda, Watts was corporate comms manager at National & Provincial Building Society, after spending 12 years at IBM.