Primark has poached John Lyttle from rival Matalan to the role of chief operating officer.

Lyttle, who was buying director at Matalan, has joined value fashion chain Primark with responsibility for buying and sourcing across both the UK and international divisions.

Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, operates 198 stores in countries including the Republic of Ireland – where it trades as Penneys -, the UK, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Primark posted a 15% sales rise in the 16 weeks to June 19.

Primark said: “This appointment reiterates Primark’s commitment to invest in order to ensure the continued success of the Penneys and Primark brands and to support future expansion plans.”

Lyttle, who has a strong buying and merchandising background, replaces Paul Marchant, who was promoted to Primark chief executive in September. Founder Arthur Ryan remains chairman of the chain.