The senior executive responsible for providing legal advice to Asda throughout its attempted merger with Sainsbury’s has quit the supermarket after more than eight years.
General counsel and company secretary Alex Simpson has resigned to take up a new role at Amazon – joining the online giant’s UK boss Doug Gurr, who also previously worked at Walmart-owned Asda.
In an internal email sent by Asda chief executive Roger Burnley, staff were told a new recruitment process is under way and Mr Simpson leaves on September 12.
He said: “I am writing to let you know that Alex Simpson, our general counsel and company secretary, has decided the time is right for him to leave us and take on a new role.
“Alex joined us almost ten years ago and has been part of the exec team since 2013, during which time he has built and successfully led teams of lawyers and colleagues, managing some of the very complex legal challenges that we have faced.
“As general counsel, Alex has been a strong and inclusive leader and has built a professional and very capable legal team.
“He has also provided us, and Walmart, with impeccable legal judgment, a strong knowledge of the business and uncompromising integrity.”
Mr Simpson was in charge of drawing up and seeking legal advice over attempts by Sainsbury’s and Asda to merge last year.
Both supermarkets said they would save shoppers hundreds of millions of pounds by working together to negotiate lower prices with suppliers.
However, the Competition and Markets Authority blocked the deal, warning it could lead to reduced competition on the high street and have a negative impact on shoppers.
Asda is now looking at a potential stock market listing instead, with US owners Walmart keen to leave the highly competitive UK grocery scene.
There has previously been speculation that Amazon was looking at buying a UK supermarket chain, although the online company has declined to comment.