The Co-operative Food’s new chief executive Steve Murrells takes up the role today.

Murrells, whose appointment was announced in January, replaces Tim Hurrell who retired last year.

Murrells joins from Danish meat company, Tulip, where he is UK chief executive.

Prior to that the 46-year old held senior positions at Tesco, including chief executive of its One Stop stores.

He was most recently responsible for the integration of the Dobbies garden centre business and has previously worked in buying and trading departments for Sainsbury’s.

Murrells will report to group chief executive Peter Marks. He will be charged with improving the grocer’s performance in an intensely competitive market which has caused it to lose market share in recent months.

Sean Toal has been acting chief executive for food retail since January and will now take on the newly-created role of chief operating officer, food, reporting to Murrells.

The Co-operative group chief executive Peter Marks said that Murrells’ appointment is a reflection of the “phenomenal growth” that the retailer has experienced as a result of the acquisition of Somerfield.

Marks said in January: “Steve and Sean bring to their new positions a wealth of experience and complementary skills to make us more efficient and more customer focussed as we move through the next phase of our development as the UK’s leading community retailer.”