08 January 2020

UK supermarket giant Asda secures new general counsel from Mars

Helen Selby to join Walmart-owned grocer amid speculation it is gearing up for a float

British supermarket giant Asda has ended its search for a new GC with the hire of Mars UK’s legal head Helen Selby. Selby will take up the role of GC and company secretary which has been vacant since September following the departure of longstanding legal head Alexander Simpson.

The announcement comes less than 12 months after Selby became GC and company secretary at Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK, a position she assumed in March.

She joins Walmart-owned Asda’s executive board, which is led by CEO Roger Burnley, amid speculation that the Big Four UK grocer is gearing up for a float this year.

Her arrival follows a busy year for Asda’s legal team.

In October Asda struck a deal to offset nearly £4bn of its pension liabilities while it also became embroiled in a dispute with its 12,000 staff over changes to their contracts.

In April, the UK’s competition watchdog – the Competition and Markets Authority - blocked its proposed £7bn merger with Sainsbury’s for fears it would lead to price rises.

Selby was a corporate lawyer at Pinsent Masons at the outset of her career, but has devoted the bulk of her employment to in-house legal roles in the retail sector, with positions at companies including Premier Foods and Hovis.

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