Tesco chief operating officer Bob Robbins will move roles within the business just three weeks after it was revealed he sold stock ahead of a profit warning.

Robbins will work directly for group chief executive Philip Clarke “on a number of initiatives”, Reuters reports.

Robbins has held the chief operating officer role for less than a year, starting in March 2011. He will be succeeded by Chris Bush, the chief executive of Tesco in Thailand who has worked for the business for 29 years.

He made around £202,000 after selling 50,000 shares on January 4, eight days before the grocer issued a profit warning causing its share price to tumble.

Clarke said in an internal announcement: “Bob will work directly for me in a new role that will allow the executive team to increase its focus on the strategic priorities we have established whilst strengthening further the support we provide to the UK business.”

A Tesco spokesman said Robbins’ internal move was unrelated to the share sale.

Bush be responsible for Tesco’s UK stores, leadership and distribution network. John Christie, who has worked for the retailer for 30 years, will succeed Bush as chief executive of the Thai business.

Tesco UK chief executive Richard Brasher said: “Last month we set out our determination to invest in the UK business. These changes give the UK board the combined strength of a very experienced leader of change and a talented country chief executive who has done an extraordinary job in Thailand.”

He added: “I would personally like to thank Bob for his contribution and support over the last year. His wealth of experience has improved our store operations and I look forward to working with him on delivering our strong investment plan over the coming year.”

Yesterday Tesco completed a sale and leaseback transaction on 10 large UK stores. The grocer has structured a 50-50 deal with an unnamed UK investor for the deal which will free up more than £450m for the retailer.