Sainsbury’s sees first HR director promoted to the company’s board

Britain’s second largest supermarket group has upgraded its HR department by
promoting the function’s head to the main company board.

Imelda Walsh, Sainsbury’s HR director, becomes the first board-level HR
professional to be appointed in the retailer’s 134-year history.

The move is designed to give the HR department more influence at the very
top of the company as it strives to catch its main competitor Tesco.

"I’m delighted to be joining the main Sainsbury’s Supermarkets board.
Although my day-to-day duties will remain the same, historically, this is the
first time there has been someone on the board who is solely dedicated to
HR," said Walsh, who joined the company in 2001.

"I believe this further underlines Sainsbury’s commitment to HR and I
look forward to continuing to drive this area of the business forward,"
she added.

Before the promotion, Walsh reported to John Adshead, who had top-level
responsibility for IT, business transformation and HR for about 173,800 employees.

The move is the culmination of two years of work, which has seen the central
HR function split into three teams covering organisational change, resourcing
and reward.

The promotion marks a significant shift in the sector as the majority of
companies do not have an HR director on the main company board.

By Ross Wigham

HR’s standing in the supermarkets

Company                    head of department                 Member of the board

Tesco                           Clare Chapman                        No
Sainsbury’s                   Imelda Walsh                           Yes
Asda                            David Smith                              Yes
Safeway                       Jim White                                 No
Marks & Spencer         Jean Tomlin                              No
Morrisons                     David Ward                             No

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