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The Very Group appoints Lionel Desclée as new chief executive

The Very Group has appointed Lionel Desclée, the former president and chief executive of Walmart Japan, as its new group chief executive. Due to join the… View Article

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

The Very Group appoints Lionel Desclée as new chief executive

The Very Group has appointed Lionel Desclée, the former president and chief executive of Walmart Japan, as its new group chief executive.

Due to join the business on 19 September, he will succeed Henry Birch who is stepping down after four and a half years in the role.

Desclée is currently working as a senior advisor at McKinsey & Company, but previously spent three years heading up Walmart’s Japan business where he led a 35,000-strong team at Seiyu, the Japanese supermarket business. Under his stewardship, Seiyu accelerated its move into digital through a joint venture with online retailer Rakuten. He also led Walmart’s subsequent partial exit from Seiyu to investor KKR and Rakuten.

Prior to Walmart, Desclée spent three years as president and chief executive of Tom & Co, which operates over 160 pet care stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. His CV also includes a number of senior roles at global retail business Delhaize Group.

Dirk Van den Berghe, The Very Group chairman, said: “Lionel is a highly respected leader with a wealth of global experience across digital and both food and non-food omnichannel retail. He has a proven track record of achieving growth through transformation and operational excellence, developing and coaching world-class teams, and helping companies become even more customer-centric. I am confident that Lionel’s collaborative and strategic approach will prove invaluable as The Very Group further develops its proposition, having successfully navigated the pandemic.”

Under Birch’s leadership, The Very Group broke the £2 billion sales mark in 2020 and delivered record revenue and EBITDA in 2021.

Van den Berghe said: “Henry has guided the group superbly over the last four and a half years. He is a dedicated, innovative and people-oriented leader, and he leaves a fantastic legacy. When he heads off to take on his next challenge later this year, it will be with our very best wishes.”

Birch added: “It has been a privilege to lead this amazing and committed team through such an important chapter in the company’s development. As I move onto my next challenge, I am proud of the progress we have made together for our customers and our people. I am confident that under Lionel’s leadership, The Very Group will continue to thrive in the years ahead.”

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