Ian McLeod, the outgoing boss of Australian retailer Coles, has taken up the role at Majid Al Futtaim, the Middle East’s fastest growing retail business.

McLeod, the former Halfords chief executive and Asda director, has been appointed to Majid Al Futtaim Retail, which has the franchise for Carrefour hypermarkets in the Middle East, South Central Europe and Africa, according to the Australian Financial Review.

McLeod said: “I think I can bring some value added to the Majid Al Futtaim board and also bring benefits to Wesfarmers. The company has unique challenges opening and managing stories in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq.

“For me this is a great opportunity to work with some of the world’s best retailers,” he added.

There has been speculation that McLeod is set to make his return to the UK.

The new role comes after McLeod was promoted to group commercial director at Coles parent Wesfarmers last month. He is set to step down as Coles managing director in July.