Ex-Tesco man named new Palmer & Harvey CEO

Palmer & Harvey (P&H) has named former Tesco man Tony Reed as its new chief executive, as well as appointing ex-Mitchells & Butlers CEO Alistair Darby as a non-executive director.

Reed has spent 38 years in the industry working for Tesco in a number of operational roles across different store formats, as well as spending four years in retail giant’s commercial division. He became CEO of Tesco’s One Stop c-store chain in 2011, helping to grow sales in that arm of the business despite struggles elsewhere in the Tesco empire.

Darby has wide-ranging experience of leading major businesses. Before becoming chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers plc, a FTSE 250 operator of restaurants and pubs, he held a number of senior operational and strategic roles at Marston’s plc from 1997 to 2011, including a decade as a board director.

A spokesperson for P&H said that these appointments add strength and depth to the company’s board and senior management team in preparation for its next phase of development. Chris Etherington, the current chairman and chief executive, will become executive deputy chairman, and Richard Grainger has been appointed as non-executive chairman, following three years as a non-executive director.  Grainger is currently chairman of McKay Securities plc, a publicly quoted commercial property investment company. Previously he was chairman of Safestore plc, and chief executive of Close Brothers Corporate Finance. In addition, Stewart Oades will retire from his role as a non-executive director in December 2016.

Etherington said: “We are delighted to welcome Tony as our chief executive. His deep experience of the retail sector will be extremely valuable to Palmer & Harvey, as will his track record of driving growth, operational efficiency and his passion for developing people.

“Tony is ideally placed to drive our long-term strategy, further strengthen our customer proposition and embed our reputation for first class service.

“The appointment of Alistair further strengthens our board, adding significant operational experience as we focus on delivering our strategy to the benefit of all our stakeholders.”

Reed said “I am looking forward to working with the strong team at Palmer & Harvey to drive the opportunities for growth, operational efficiency and service excellence that its unique scale, heritage, reputation for delivery and customer relationships present. Having worked closely with Palmer & Harvey over the last four years, I have always found it a reactive and responsive business to work with.”

Palmer & Harvey was established in 1925 as a wholesaler of sweets and tobacco. It is the largest distributor to Britain’s convenience sector, and has annual sales of over £4bn. The group is entirely owned by its 650 present and former employees, and is the UK’s fifth-largest private company.


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