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Wal-Mart Names New European Chief

September 6, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ The head of Wal-Mart’s European operations is resigning and will be replaced by the leader of its Canadian division.

The No. 1 U.S. retailer on Wednesday announced the resignation of Allan Leighton, 47, an executive inherited with the purchase of British supermarket chain ASDA. His replacement will be Dave Ferguson, 55, the company said.

Leighton ran ASDA Group PLC when the much larger Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., bought the company in July 1999 for $10.7 billion. He oversaw the integration of the companies, and was named chief of European operations in December.

Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s president and chief executive officer, said, ``We regret losing a talent like Allan Leighton, but we greatly appreciate the contribution he made during the transition period since our acquisition of ASDA.″

Leighton gave no immediate explanation for stepping down. Wal-Mart spokesman Nick Agarwal said Leighton would leave the company in a few months, and was likely to focus on his two other jobs, as deputy chairman of the Leeds United soccer club and board member of BSkyB, Rupert Murdoch’s satellite broadcaster.

However, some retail analysts were suggesting that Leighton might be leaving Wal-Mart to take a top job at Marks and Spencer, the troubled British department store chain.

Wal-Mart entered Europe in 1998, acquiring 21 Wertkauf stores in Germany. It followed a year later with the purchase of 74 German Interspar stores.

ASDA operates 240 stores from its base in the northern English city of Leeds. Its takeover was Wal-Mart’s first foray into the U.K. and sent shock waves through the British grocery industry. ASDA’s competitors have responded with aggressive efforts to boost efficiency and cut prices.

Ferguson led Wal-Mart Canada for more than four years. Earlier this year the Retail Council of Canada named him Distinguished Retailer of the Year.

Wal-Mart announced the promotion of Tony DeNunzio, 40, to chief financial officer of Wal-Mart Europe, a new position reporting to Ferguson.

Mario Pilozzi, 53, was named chief operating officer of Wal-Mart Canada. Hani Zayadi, 52, has been promoted to senior vice president of merchandising, replacing Pilozzi.

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