Ocado Retail boss Melanie Smith steps down after three years

Ocado Retail’s Melanie Smith CBE will be stepping down as chief executive of the grocery giant after three years, handing over to Lawrence Hene when she leaves the business on 31 August 2022.

As part of the transition process, Mel will be handing over to Hene on an interim basis. Hene has remained on the board as a non-executive director since August 2019, when the joint venture between M&S and Ocado was first established.

Prior to this, Hene had been deputy CEO at Ocado Retail.

Mel has been instrumental in building the partnership between M&S and Ocado and a permanent successor will be appointed in due course.

Smith said: “It has been a privilege to lead the Ocado Retail team over the last three years.

“After three years now is the right time for me to move on to new challenges and I leave behind a strong business, full of energetic, amazing colleagues that have achieved so many great things and I know will take the business onwards to achieve many more.

READ MORE: Ocado results expected to focus on
rising costs and changing customer behaviour 

Tim Steiner, chairman of Ocado Retail, confirmed that the online grocer would begin the search for a permanent new CEO immediately, looking for someone to “take Ocado Retail through the next steps of our growth as a critical part of the strategy for both Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer”.

He thanked Smith for her contribution to the business and “incredible energy”, describing the last two years as being “extremely challenging with a pandemic to contend with affecting the grocery market in ways that we could never have predicted”.

Steiner also reinforced his confidence in Hene taking the role of interim CEO, adding that he will “provide the leadership required in these turbulent market conditions”.

Stuart Machin, CEO of Marks & Spencer, said: “Mel has been fundamental in establishing our joint venture and the successful switchover to M&S supply.

“I am grateful for the contribution she has made in this early phase. While today’s market conditions are tough for everyone, we believe in the long-term opportunity of our partnership and the substantial further potential in the joint venture.”

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