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Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK

Business: The Company File

Wal-Mart exec to head Safeway

Safeway faces a fight to maintain and grow market share

The smallest of the UK's Big Four supermarket chains, Safeway, has recruited a former executive of US retail giant Wal-Mart as chief operating officer.

It said 47-year-old Carlos Criado-Perez will take charge of retail operations, marketing, trading and logistics when he joins the company next month.

Safeway, along with rivals Tesco and Sainsbury, is getting itself prepared for Wal-Mart's imminent entry into the UK market.

The US retailer, famed for its giant stores and stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap policy, is in the process of acquiring the UK's third largest supermarket chain Asda.

Mr Criado-Perez left Wal-Mart earlier this year, having served for almost a year as chief operating officer of its fast-growing international division.

He will have the task now of reinvigorating a chain which like Sainsbury has lost its way of late, compared to Tesco and Asda.

Director quits on news

Sainsbury has taken a number of measures, including the roll-out of hundreds of city centre 'local' stores, creating 10,000 jobs.

Safeway is also trying to boost performance, with the prices of hundreds of goods being slashed in a summer promotion.

Before joining Wal-Mart in March 1998, Mr Criado-Perez was an executive board member at Dutch food wholesaler SHV Makro.

Safeway chief executive Colin Smith said he had been looking to recruit a top executive for some time and Mr Criado-Perez "fits the bill perfectly".

"He has a wealth of experience at very senior level in a variety of different markets and retail formats within world class businesses", said Mr Smith.

However, the decision means that Safeway's customer development director Roger Partington will leave the group.

"Colin decided to appoint Carlos and as a result Roger decided that he wanted to pursue his career elsewhere," a Safeway representative said.

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