Former John Lewis and Phones 4U director Brendan Sweeney has joined Australian grocer Coles to head up its online retail business.

Coles chairman and former Asda chief executive Archie Norman told Retail Week that Sweeney will “drive the business forward” in developing its online offer.

Sweeney, who started work at the retailer last week, has relocated to Melbourne, Australia. He joins Coles from Phones4u where he had held a number of key positions – including UK managing director and latterly business development director – since September 2006.

Sweeney has also held positions at John Lewis where he was commercial director for three years from September 2003 and Brookes Avana, a chilled food producer, where he was managing director.

Norman said: “Brendan is a top level talent, he has a good breadth of experience. He comes from a very strong stable – the DNA of both John Lewis and Phones 4U.”

“Our current home delivery offer is a food and liquor business run out of the back of stores in most metropolitan areas in Australia. There is tremendous scope for growth, including in general merchandise.”

Coles released its full-year results for the 12 months ended June 30 in August. Food and liquor sales were 4.6% up on 2011 at Aus$26.2bn (£17.51bn), while like-for-like sales increased 3.7%.

That was a better performance than rival Woolworths, which posted a full-year Australian food and liquor sales increase of 3.8%.

It is understood headhunter Fran Minogue at Clarity Search placed Sweeney.