The appointment will see Freudmann returning to the Northern Hemisphere after spending 13 years in Australia, the last three as a managing director at leading beer, wine and spirits retailer Dan Murphy’s. Freudmann will be joining M&S on 1 November with a place on the executive committee.
The new managing director of food believes in the “long-term potential to double the size of the business”, after taking on lead retail roles at Cole’s, Dan Murphy’s and Tesco.
Grocery Gazette takes a closer look into Freudmann’s profile, to see what his transformative approach may hold for the future of M&S Food.
Prior to his appointment at M&S, Freudmann was managing director at liquor retailing chain Dan Murphy’s, where he had worked since 2019.
The alcohol retailer, previously owned by supermarket giant Woolworths, had been taken over by the Endeavour Group – Australia’s largest owner of poker machines and the third-largest gaming operator in the nation.
At the time Freudmann was recruited, the retailer had been experiencing softer sales as an increasing numbers of consumers had cut back on consumption from higher-margin wine to beer and spirits.
As a result, the company recruited him to re-focus its sales to better suit traditional customers and Millennials, driving its convenience channel and providing on-demand deliveries.
Freudmann took on the role months before the Covid-19 pandemic, and looked after 258 Dan Murphy’s stores during the global crisis.
He successfully geared the business towards Gen Z and Millennials by embracing the ‘drink better’ cultural shift of craft-made drinks, leaning towards local breweries and trying new varieties – all in moderation.
“Since joining Dan Murphy’s, Alex has not only helped to successfully navigate the business through an incredibly disruptive two years during the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been instrumental in driving the innovation and modernisation now synonymous with the Dan Murphy’s brand,” managing director of Endeavour drinks Steve Donohue said.
With global regulations easing – including Australia’s strict travel laws – Freudmann stated the “time is now right for me to return home to the United Kingdom with family”. He said he would be leaving Dan Murphy’s in “a strong position”.
Before joining Dan Murphy’s, Freudmann had served 10 years in Australian retailer Cole’s, working across various positions including general manager grocery and general manager meat.
Joining the supermarket in 2009, he initially served as the Cole’s group merchandise manager in health, beauty and baby before paving his steady progression to into the grocery category, wher he settled and began to specialise.
From 2011 to 2013, he held business category managerial positions for meal requirements and grocery pantry before being named Cole’s general manager of grocery food in 2013.
During that time, Freudmann lead the country’s largest end-to-end meat business – sourcing livestock from around 2,000 farms across Australia. The farm to fork network also saw Freudmann managing the processing and packaging in 12 facilities nationwide as well as 780 retail stores.
In 2018, he was appointed Cole’s director of fresh foods which encompassed and combined his previous responsibilities from across meat, seafood, convenience food, delicatessen, fresh produce and bakery.
Before venturing down-under, Freudmann held various positions at Tesco between 2003 and 2009. When starting, he first served as Tesco commercial manger for telecoms before progressing to category director in 2007.
In 2008, Freudmann broke into the food category for the Big 4 grocer, when he was appointed senior buying manager in convenience food.
During his time in this role, Freudmann led the turnaround of premium and healthy prepared meals, including the brand creation of Finest Restaurant Collection and City Kitchen.
It’s evident that Freudmann’s consistency, progression and innovation has allowed him to thrive and make significant changes across a number of grocery roles, including convenience, senior buying and director of food.
With a wealth of experience that goes beyond retail spaces and takes him from agricultural plains to processing plants, Freudmann clearly knows the inner-workings of the entire food network.
Not only has he worked with leading grocers in the UK and Australia, M&S new managing director of food has also demonstrated his unique capacity for brand transformation; launching ready-meal brands at Tesco, circumventing market disruption at Cole’s and raising Dan Murphy’s profile amid slimming profits.
“Although much has been achieved, huge opportunities remain, and I share the executive team’s belief in the long-term potential to double the size of the business,” Freudmann commented on his appointment at M&S.
“I am looking forward to coming back to the UK and working with a great team to accelerate the pace of change to build an even bigger, better, fresher food business.”