Archie Norman

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Person.png Archie Norman  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, businessman)
Born1 May 1954
Dover, England
Alma materCharterhouse School, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Emmanuel College (Cambridge), Harvard Business School
Children1 daughter
Founder ofPolicy Exchange

Archibald John Norman , known as Archie Norman, is a businessman and former Conservative politician. He is best known for what Management Today calls his 'legendary years' at Asda during the 1990s when he cut 5,000 jobs and created enormous profits and growth for the company. It was later sold to Walmart for £6.5 billion, giving shareholders a 1,000 per cent return. [1] He is a co-founder of Policy Exchange and its now defunct sister organisation CChange and is currently Chairman of ITV.

Education and business career

Norman attended the elite British public school Charterhouse [2] and then Emmanuel College (Cambridge), where he studied economics. After graduating in 1975 he joined Citibank, where he worked until 1977. He was awarded an MBA in economics from Harvard Business School in 1979 and joined the management consultancy company McKinsey [3] where he was appointed the company's youngest partner at the age of 29. [4]

In 1986 he was appointed finance director of Woolworth Holdings plc (later renamed Kingfisher plc). He was also Chairman of the company's property subsidiary Chartwell Land plc until 1991. [5] That year he was appointed chief executive of Asda. He headed the company until 1996 and then was Chairman from 1997 to 2000. [6] As chief executive Norman had to make what the Telegraph calls 'tough decisions' such as 'cutting 5,000 jobs'. Asda grew into Britain's second largest supermarket, and the group was sold to WalMart in 1999 for £6.5 billion. [7] Norman was also a non-executive director of British Rail (later Railtrack) from 1992-2000 and was Chairman of the telecommunications company Energis from 2002-2005.

From 2006 to 2009 he was Chairman of the private equity firm Aurigo Management. He has been a non-executive director of Holmes Place since 2003 and a senior advisor to the investment bank Lazard since 2004. [8] In November 2009 it was announced that Norman would be appointed Chairman of ITV. According to the Guardian, 'The City reacted positively to Norman's appointment, with ITV's share price up 4.7% in early trading'. [9]


In 1997 Norman was elected Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells. He was the first FTSE-100 chairman to sit in the House of Commons [10] and whilst still Chairman of Asda was chief executive and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1997-1999).

He was a Shadow Minister in William Hague's Shadow Cabinet, serving as Shadow Minister for Europe 1999-2000 and Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions 2000-01. [11]

Norman was one of a group of Conservative MPs who backed Michael Portillo’s campaign in the 2001 Conservative leadership contest. Dubbed ‘Portillistas’ by Westminster commentators, Portillo’s backers saw themselves as modernisers of an out of touch party which had put off potential voters through its negativity, xenophobia and social conservatism. Portillo withdrew from the Conservative leadership race on the evening of 17 July 2001 and subsequently announced that he would leave politics. Only days later, Norman told the Daily Telegraph’s Rachel Sylvester that he and other Portillo supporters were planning to set up a think-tank saying: ‘I came into public life to help transform the Conservative Party so it can win again, and that's what I'm still about.’ [12] On 21 July the Daily Telegraph ran a front page headline, ‘Portillo supporters to fight on’. Norman was quoted as saying:

We've got hundreds of thousands of people who don't want to lose what we were creating, we've got financial support from people who wanted to invest in this as the future of the party and we would like to find a way of channelling that and harnessing it. [13]

Norman and his friend Francis Maude (who had was a non-executive director of Asda from 1992 to 1999) emerged as leaders of the ‘Portillistas’. They decided to set up two seperate think-tanks as part of their modernisation project. One, XChange Ideas or simply XChange, would be rebranded as Policy Exchange a few months later. A company limited by guarantee, formed in October 2001, became XChange Ideas on 9 November 2001. A seperate company Conservatives for Change was also was set up that October, and was branded CChange. Norman was a director of CChange (which has since been dissolved) from November 2001 to May 2005. That year Norman left parliament.


C-Change | Policy Exchange


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  1. Chris Blackhurst, 'Exclusive MT interview: Archie Norman', Management Today, 3 September 2007.
  2. Nick Mathiason, 'Norman to the rescue - again', The Observer, 11 June 2006
  3. NORMAN, Archibald John’, Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2009; Debrett's People of Today,Norman, Esq [Accessed 15 April 2010]
  4. Helia Ebrahimi, 'Archie Norman: the ex-Asda boss who saves businesses on the shelf', Daily Telegraph, 3 July 2009.
  5. Debrett's People of Today,Norman, Esq [Accessed 15 April 2010]
  6. Debrett's People of Today,Norman, Esq [Accessed 15 April 2010]
  7. Helia Ebrahimi, 'Archie Norman: the ex-Asda boss who saves businesses on the shelf', Daily Telegraph, 3 July 2009.
  8. Debrett's People of Today,Norman, Esq [Accessed 15 April 2010]
  9. Jason Deans and Graeme Wearden, 'Archie Norman named ITV chairmanFormer Tory MP and Asda chief executive to replace Michael Grade at broadcaster',, 18 November 2009
  10. Chris Blackhurst, 'Exclusive MT interview: Archie Norman', Management Today, 3 September 2007.
  11. Debrett's People of Today,Norman, Esq [Accessed 15 April 2010]
  12. Rachel Sylvester, ‘Norman still selling Portillo's dream’, Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2001.
  13. Rachel Sylvester, ‘Portillo supporters to fight on’, Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2001; p.1.