Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke has moved one its key directors in his £1bn turnaround plan.

Fresh and frozen food commercial director Andrew Yaxley has been moved off the crucial remit which Clarke identified as one of the key areas in reviving shoppers’ experience of UK stores.

Yaxley is to leave the role to move to a general management training programme before taking a “general management position” next year. Yaxley leaves after two and a half years in the role.

Packaged foods commercial director John Scouler will take up a new role which combines heading up fresh and packaged foods on December 1.

Yaxley said in a letter to suppliers seen by Retail Week: “After two and a half years as the fresh food commercial director and just as I thought I was starting to master the complexity of the fresh food business, Phil has asked me to move to a general management position.

“As a consequence of my move we have decided to combine Fresh Food and Packaged Food together and I am pleased to announce that effective 1st December John Scouler will take over responsibility for the combined food business. John and I will spend the next few weeks ensuring that we have a smooth transition and that none of the great plans we have initiated for Christmas are lost in the business transition.”

Yaxley said in Tesco’s Talking Shop blog for directors this month: “My best moment at Tesco so far was [when] I got the job to look after Fresh Foods for the UK business.”

He joined Tesco in 2001 and has worked in the grocer’s businesses in the Czech Republic and Slovakia heading up an expansion programme in the Eastern European countries.

Clarke said fresh food had been a key problem for the retailer after issuing Tesco’s first profit warning in 20 years in January.

The retailer has since revamped its in-store bakeries and brought in dedicated fresh produce teams to ensure strong service and replenishment in stores.