The Co-operative has made two key appointments, including hiring Steve Murrells as the new chief executive of its food business.

Murrells, who joins in July, 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.

He has also previously worked in buying and trading departments for Sainsbury’s.

The Co-op has also promoted commercial director of food Sean Toal to the newly created position of chief operating officer, food, reporting to Murrells.

Murrells said: “The Co-operative Group has made enormous strides in its food business and this is an exciting time to be leading the team as we Focus on delivering the full potential of The Co-operative brand for the benefit of our customers and members.”    

Murrells will report to group chief executive Peter Marks

Marks said: “As a result of the acquisition and integration of Somerfield, The Co-operative Group has experienced phenomenal growth, and is once again a major force in food retailing.

“These appointments reflect this.

“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.”