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Former Walmart executive appointed to run Very Group

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Between 2005 and 2016, Mr Desclée (pictured) held a number of senior roles at retail business Delhaize Group
Between 2005 and 2016, Mr Desclée (pictured) held a number of senior roles at retail business Delhaize Group

The owner of Very.co.uk has hired a new chief executive as Henry Birch prepares to step down after nearly five years at the helm.

The Very Group, which owns the Littlewoods and Very brands, has appointed Lionel Desclée, who previously led US grocer Walmart’s business in Japan for three years.

He joins Very from McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, where he is currently a senior adviser. The retailer is owned by the Barclay family, who also own Telegraph Media Group.

Mr Birch, who helped the retailer break the £2bn sales mark for the first time in 2020, will step down in September after four and a half years in the role.

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

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

He said: “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.”

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