* Company to look internally and externally for new CEO
* CFO McKenna, COO Clarke seen strong internal candidates
* To outline strategy to analysts on Thursday
(Adds detail, background)
LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) - Asda Chief Executive Andy Bond is moving to become part-time chairman as Britain’s second-biggest grocer looks for a new leader to drive its next phase of growth.
Asda, owned by U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), said on Monday it would look both internally an externally for a successor to Bond, who has led the chain for five years.
Analysts said finance chief Judith McKenna and Chief Operating Officer Andy Clarke were strong internal candidates.
Asda, which trails UK market leader Tesco Plc (TSCO.L), is due set out its plans for growth at an analyst field trip in Leeds, northern England, on Thursday.
The group said in February it would expand into smaller format stores, open more non-food shops and cut costs as part of Wal-Mart’s drive to centralise the purchase of more products at a group level.
Some commentators have said it will only be able to fulfil its ambitions in non-food markets by making an acquisition and have linked it with a possible bid for Britain’s biggest household goods retailer, Home Retail HOME.L. [ID:nLDE63B0DX]
Bond presided over 15 consecutive quarters of market-beating sales growth and led Asda to its best ever year in 2009.
But sales growth has lagged behind its main rivals so far this year and Bond has admitted the group became too focused on promotions, which clouded its low-price message. [ID:nLDE61H136]
Asda said Bond would remain as chief executive until a successor was appointed, adding that one of his main jobs in the new role would be to ensure a smooth transition.
Some analysts think he is likely to leave the group in the longer term. (Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by David Holmes)