Supermarket heavyweight joins Menzies on its distribution drive

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By Kristy Dorsey

The former head of Asda has joined the board of Menzies Distribution following its acquisition in December of the national logistics and supply chain services arm of Bibby Line Group.

Andy Clark takes up the post of non-executive director as Menzies prepares for its “next phase” of growth. The business is majority-owned by private equity firm Endless, which purchased the distribution operation in a £74.5 million deal to complete its demerger from John Menzies airline support services in 2018.

Endless is said to regard Menzies Distribution, which has historic links with the news trade, as a “buy and build” investment. The current focus is on organic growth and selective acquisitions.

“Andy is an influential figure in British business and I am delighted to welcome him to the Menzies board,” chief executive Greg Michael said. “His breadth of experience as a chairman, as well as a superb track record in several sectors relevant to Menzies, will be invaluable as we enter the next phase of our ambitious plan for growth.”

 Menzies acquires Bibby arm ‘unlocking geographical capability’

The announcement comes two months after the acquisition of Bibby Distribution for an undisclosed sum, creating what was described at that time as a “major force” in UK logistics.

Bibby Distribution operates across a number of sectors including paper, packaging and consumer products. The combined operations have almost 5,000 employees, 4,000 vehicles and 100 depot locations.

Mr Clark is the former president and chief executive of supermarket chain Asda, which he headed up from 2010 to 2016. During that time, Asda reached the number two position in the UK grocery market, while its George clothing operation became the highest-volume clothing brand in the UK.

In his earlier career, Mr Clark held roles at Morrisons, Matalan and Iceland, as well as working with strategy consultants McKinsey & Partners.

 John Menzies severs historic links with newspaper trade

Since leaving Asda, he has developed a portfolio career in which he currently holds the role of chairman at operational performance specialist Newton Europe, Leeds-Bradford Airport, pharmaceutical company Immodulon Therapeutics and retail technology business Spoon Guru. Additionally, he acts as an advisor to food supplier Albert Bartlett.

In his capacity as an advocate for plastics reform, Mr Clark is also an advisor to A Plastic Planet. His retail-focused projects have included the campaign for “A Plastics Free Aisle”.

“I’m excited to be joining Menzies at such an exciting stage of its journey,” Mr Clark said. “I look forward to working closely with Greg and the senior team as Menzies capitalises on the many compelling opportunities ahead to cement its position as a major force in UK logistics.”

Aidan Robson, a partner at Endless, added: “We are delighted to welcome Andy Clark to the Menzies board. At a time when Covid-19 has redefined the importance of logistics in the UK, Andy Clark’s strong experience across retail and multi-channel businesses will help support Menzies to deliver its growth aspirations through both organic expansion and acquisition.”

 ‘Paperless society’ complaints lead Menzies to adjust island route priorities

Prior to splitting off from Edinburgh-based John Menzies, the distribution business was diversifying into new areas such as the provision of delivery services for online retailers. This is on top of its core business in which it partners with publishers to provide a sustainable route to market for their product.

According to the company’s website, Menzies delivers 31 million items per week to some 31,000 locations per day. Together with Bibby’s end-to-end supply chain platform, directors believe there are significant opportunities to grow both businesses by “unlocking geographical capability and expanding services to both sets of customers”.

Speaking of the deal at that time, Bibby Distribution chief executive Richard Morson described Menzies as an “ideal partner”.

“Our shared values of outstanding reliability, strong relationships and heritage underpin the compelling prospect of an enlarged group taking the lead on quality and innovation in UK logistics,” Mr Morson said. “Menzies’ smart approach to supply chain solutions for its customers and pioneering investment in electric vehicle technology show it is a truly future-focused business and we are very much looking forward to embarking on this new journey.”

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