Sainsbury’s has said its convenience strategy will remain on track despite the exit of its convenience director Dido Harding, and that it will appoint someone to take over her responsibilities in the new year.

Harding – who will leave Sainsbury’s in spring to become chief executive of Talk Talk, the soon to be demerged broadband arm of Carphone Warehouse – is known as one of the grocer’s high fliers. She moved to Sainsbury’s from Tesco and has also worked at Kingfisher.

One retail analyst said: “She is a very solid operator and has put Sainsbury’s on the right road in convenience. But she is hugely ambitious and Talk Talk was her opportunity to head up what will be a FTSE 100 company.”

The retail part of Carphone’s demerger – Best Buy Europe – will also be headed by an ex-Tesco executive, Scott Wheway.

Sainsbury’s has been pushing its convenience stores and opened 19 stores in the first half.  It said it is on track to open 50 in this financial year, and a further 100 in the next one.

Harding has six staff in her convenience team but it is not yet known if any will be promoted. Another name in the frame for the role is Simon Twigger, business unit director for fresh and frozen foods.

Harding had been named as a possible contender for the Morrisons chief executive role left by Marc Bolland. Others in the frame are finance director Richard Pennycook, Waitrose boss Mark Price and Walmart Canada boss David Cheesewright.