Bendel takes Asda marketing helm

Rick Bendel is quitting as chief operating officer of the Publicis network to be Asda's UK marketing chief, with a brief to make it a more potent challenger to Tesco's domination of the UK retail scene.

Bendel's move is the climax of his close association with the Wal-Mart-owned chain's account, on which he has been the senior suit for many years.

His remit will include advertising, PR, in-store and new product development and merchandising, as well developing a high-street presence for Asda to match Tesco.

Although UK-based, he is also expected to be involved in Wal-Mart's repositioning across international markets.

Bendel, 48, who joined Publicis when it acquired the then Geers Gross in 1991, said his decision was influenced partly by his current punishing travel schedule - "I've had one weekend at home in the past four years" - and partly because of the opportunity "to work for a company I love".

Seven years after its £6.7 billion takeover by Wal-Mart, Asda has struggled to hold its own against Tesco, which now commands almost a third of the market compared with Asda's 16.5 per cent.

- Comment, page 44.