The Very Group appoints former Walmart Japan boss to top job

·1 min read

Online retailer The Very Group has hired the former boss of Walmart’s Japan business to succeed outgoing chief executive Henry Birch, who is stepping down after nearly five years in the role.

Very – the group behind the Littlewoods and Very brands – said Lionel Desclee will start his new role on September 19, with Mr Birch standing down on September 24 after four-and-a-half years at the helm.

Mr Desclee was previously president and chief executive of Walmart Japan for three years, where he led a team of 35,000 at Seiyu, the Japanese supermarket business.

He joins Very from consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he is currently a senior adviser.

During his tenure, Mr Birch helped the group break the £2 billion sales mark for the first time in 2020.

Mr Desclee said he is “delighted” to have been made chief executive.

“The company has a rich history of transformation and an even more exciting future supporting families in the UK and Ireland with amazing brands, flexible payment options and a simple customer experience,” he said.

“I can’t wait to start working with the team to further strengthen the convenience, flexibility and value Very provides, whilst exploring new products and services to support our customers.”

Mr Birch said he is “confident that, under Lionel’s leadership, The Very Group will continue to thrive in the years ahead”, and added that being chief executive had been a “privilege”.

Mr Desclee has also held chief executive roles at global companies including Tom & Co, which operated more than 160 pet care stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

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