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Very Group hires former Walmart executive as new CEO


Very Group
// Very Group hires former Walmart executive Lionel Desclée as new boss
// Desclée was president and CEO of Walmart’s Japanese business for three years

Very Group has appointed former Walmart executive Lionel Desclée as new chief executive as Henry Birch resigns after four-and-a-half years.

Desclée, who was president and chief executive of Walmart’s Japanese business for three years, joins Very Group from McKinsey & Company.

He will join office in September.


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The online retailer has generated more sales of over £2 billion for the first time when Birch was leading the group.

Very Group said: “Henry has helped to transform the group, including implementing a rebrand, launching its highly automated fulfilment centre in the East Midlands, making its AI-powered chatbot the most popular customer service channel, and successfully navigating the pandemic.”

At Walmart’s Seiyu supermarket business in Japan, Desclée was responsible for a workforce of 35,000.

He also led Walmart’s subsequent partial exit from Seiyu.

Very Group chair Dirk Van den Berghe 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.

“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.”

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