Discount grocer Aldi is to transfer its managing director for buying in Australia to lead the business in the UK.

The grocer will appoint Matthew Barnes, who has been at the Australian business for about three years, to replace former UK managing director Paul Foley, it is understood. Foley left Aldi suddenly in August and was replaced immediately by Aldi stalwart Armin Burger, but it is thought Burger was only acting on an interim basis.

Prior to going to Australia, Barnes was a regional director in the UK, and opened the grocer’s first city centre, more upmarket store in Manchester.

One source close to Aldi said Barnes had done a “terrific job” in Australia and his style was similar to that of Foley - showing he would pick up where Foley left off.

In the UK, Aldi’s growth has started to slow after its stellar rise last year, when the credit crunch hit and many shoppers tried discount grocers for the first time. According to TNS Worldpanel, Aldi and rival German discounter Lidlcontinue to increase share, although their growth has slowed “considerably”.

A spokeswoman for Aldi said: “It is company policy not to comment on individual roles.”