Allan Leighton

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Allan Leighton
Born (1953-04-12) 12 April 1953 (age 65)
Hereford, England
ResidenceStanmore, England
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
EducationMagdalen College School
Oxford Polytechnic
Harvard University
Known forAsda (former CEO)
Royal Mail (former chairman)
Pandora (former chairman)
Loblaw Companies (President)

Allan Leighton (born 12 April 1953) is an English businessman, former CEO of Asda, former chief executive of Pandora, and former non executive chairman of the Royal Mail. He is the currently chairman of The Co-operative Group. He took up his post in February 2015. He is also the co owner of Brackley Town.


Born in Hereford, the son of a Co-op shop manager, he was raised in Oxford. Educated at Magdalen College School, Brackley, he harboured thoughts of becoming a professional footballer, but broke his leg in six places aged 15.[1]


After graduation from Oxford Polytechnic, he joined Lloyds Bank as a cashier in 1972. Leighton left to join Mars UK in Slough as a salesman in 1974,[2] where he spent eighteen years, his colleagues included Justin King, David Cheesewright and Richard Baker. Leighton was appointed General Sales Manager for the UK Grocery Division in 1987 (the youngest director in the company worldwide),[1] and subsequently managing director of Mars in Ireland and Portugal.[3]

Leighton says he owes a lot to the Mars brothers, who gave him the practical basis for much of what he did at Asda: they would fly economy, hire a car and inspect a factory without warning before management arrived, talking to workers to get a sense of what was going on.[4]

Leaving Mars group as marketing and sales director for Pedigree Petfoods, he joined Archie Norman's management team at Asda as Marketing Director in March 1992. Sent on Harvard University's Advanced Management Program,[5] Over almost a decade, Norman and Leighton transformed Asda from a £500m company that was on its knees: "We created this culture in Asda which was, we were the underdogs, we were going to fight back."[4]

Having effectively copied the successful model of United States retailer Wal-Mart (after Leighton spent time in Wal-Mart's base of Bentonville, Arkansas, John T. Walton had been to Leighton's home), after he replaced the demoted Norman in September 1996, Leighton sold the business to Wal-Mart over Kingfisher plc for £6.7 billion in July 1999:[6] Sir Geoff Mulcahy, Kingfisher boss at the time, hasn't spoken to Leighton since.[1]

Leighton walked out in November 2000, looking for a new challenge, and whenever asked what he was doing next, Leighton would always reply: "I am going plural." To this ends, he took on a number of different roles:

Other posts have included non executive at housebuilder Wilson Connolly, and power company Scottish Power,[9] and chairman of fitness chain Cannons Health Clubs, where he wrote a weekly internal newsletter entitled "thoughts from the Jacuzzi."

Currently based half of the time in Toronto, Ontario, he is advising retail magnate Galen Weston and his son (G1 and G2, as Leighton calls them) on Canadian retail chain Loblaw Companies (for which he is being paid C$1million),[10] and is deputy chairman of Selfridges & Co. On 21 April 2008, Loblaw Companies announced that Leighton will take on the role of President of the company, replacing Mark Foote.

Leighton was appointed chairman of Yorkshire-based broadcast and broadband technology company, Pace plc, on 21 June 2011. Leighton has made few television appearances, but is currently the "mentor" in Five's show Breaking into Tesco. In 2004, Leighton was awarded an honorary degree from Cranfield University. In 2010, the University of Central Lancashire awarded him an honorary fellowship, in recognition of his achievements.[11]

In February 2015, The Co-operative Group appointed Leighton as its new independent non executive chairman, he became the first independent chairman for the business.[12] He received a £3.4 million payoff from his previous employers Pandora, where he was chief executive from July 2013 to August 2014.[13]


Leighton is chairman of Business in the Community.[2] Leighton loves sport, and although previously a skier, his knees still allow him to enjoy running, around seventeen miles a week in preparation for completing the London Marathon for a second time, in aid of Breast Cancer Care. Leighton has made a one-man bid to raise £1 million for Breast Cancer Care, the charity to which he pledges all his earnings from television, speeches and his book "On Leadership"[10] which was written for him by ghostwriter, Teena Lyons.[14]

He supports Leeds United, where he was deputy chairman, Saracens rugby team, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club and the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Allan Leighton". Management Today. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-05.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Allan Leighton". Business in the Community. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  3. ^ a b "Allan Leighton Appointed Chairman of". October 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-12-23. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  4. ^ a b Teather, David (June 1, 2007). "Singular skill of a man who relished going plural". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  5. ^ "Allan Leighton with the Advanced Management Program". Harvard Business. May 31, 1997. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  6. ^ "Profile: Allan Leighton". BBC News. 4 December 2003. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  7. ^ "Another three years in post for head of Royal Mail". 10 December 2004. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Allan Leighton to step down at BHS". 2 December 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Allan leighton". Business Week. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  10. ^ a b c "Allan Leighton keeps running". London: The Sunday Times. 5 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  11. ^ Yorkshire Post, 10 September 2013 (not online).
  12. ^ "Allan Leighton to get £3.4m payoff from jewellery brand Pandora". 19 February 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Pandora CEO Leighton Steps Down After a Year at Helm". 28 August 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  14. ^ ""On Leadership" Allan Leighton". Professional Ghost. Retrieved 2014-08-13.

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