Booker chief executive Charles Wilson will stand down after 15 years with the wholesaler in February, Tesco has announced.

Wilson will be replaced in the role by Tesco chief product officer Andrew Yaxley with a “comprehensive handover” process to begin from today. Yaxley will be replaced in his current role by Ashwin Prasad, Tesco commercial director for packaged food. 

In summer 2018, Wilson was diagnosed with throat cancer, which forced him to step down from his role as Tesco’s UK and Ireland boss to focus on his recovery. 

Following his diagnosis, he continued as chief executive of Tesco’s Booker wholesale arm, which the grocer acquired in March 2018. 

Tesco said while it was “delighted” to report that Wilson’s cancer is in remission, he has decided it is time to step back and “take things a little easier”.

The grocer said: “Charles leaves an incredible legacy of building the UK’s leading wholesale business, championing customer satisfaction and driving growth. He has been a wonderful colleague and team player to us all and we are very grateful for all he has brought to Tesco and the team.”

Outgoing Tesco group chief executive Dave Lewis said: “Charles’ reputation in the UK food business is unparalleled and for very good reason. The transformation of Booker over the last 15 years is one of the most remarkable business case studies in recent history. 

“Since the merger with Tesco, he has been a superb member of the executive team and a brilliant colleague. Whilst we are very sad to see him retire, we completely understand and wish Charles and his family all the very best for the future. I know that he will stay a massive supporter of the Tesco-Booker business and he will always remain a friend to many colleagues.”

Wilson said: “I joined the Booker team 15 years ago. At that time Booker was challenged. Together we turned around the company, improved customer satisfaction and grew to be the leading wholesaler. In 2018, we merged with Tesco. The merger is working well. Customer satisfaction has improved, our sales are up £1.5bn and we are proud to be part of Tesco. It has been a privilege serving our retail and catering customers and a pleasure working with a great team at Tesco/Booker.

“A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with throat cancer. I remain in remission but it is time to take things a little easier. I will retire next year to be replaced by Andrew Yaxley. Andrew will be a great leader of Booker within the Tesco group. Andrew and I will ensure a smooth handover to maintain business as usual. It has been a huge privilege to be part of Booker and Tesco, and I look forward to seeing the group flourish in the years ahead.”