Health and beauty retailer Superdrug has appointed former Lloydspharmacy director Steve Gray to the newly created position of healthcare director.

Gray’s appointment forms part of the retailer’s strategy to beef up its its health and pharmacy offer, pitting it against rival Boots, which already has an advanced healthcare proposition.

Gray will be responsible for operating the healthcare and pharmacy areas of the business, reporting directly to Joey Wat, UK health and beauty managing director for Superdrug owner AS Watson.

A spokeswoman for the retailer said: “This appointment reflects the importance of the health market to Superdrug’s future strategy.”

Gray was formerly chief operating officer at Lloydspharmacy’s parent company Celesio before he left in May. He worked across various roles in the company including healthcare services director and trading director.

In his time at Lloydspharmacy he helped lead the development of the retailer’s two Healthcare Villages in Thurrock and Brent Cross which offer a range of health and wellbeing services in one centre.

The centres include private dental clinics and spas and feature partnerships with other healthcare services such as optician Vision Express, podiatry provider Shuropody and clinical dermatology specialist Sk:n.

Superdrug has been undergoing changes at the top of its management this year after its commercial director Steve Jebson stood down in June after three years. He was replaced internally by both buying director for beauty, health and own brand Andrew Groom and Simon Comins, who is buying director of personal care and convenience.

Superdrug’s pretax profit slumped from £9.3m to £5.5m while turnover was flat at £1.05bn in the 53 weeks in 2011 when the retailer was hit by depressed consumer sentiment and low high street footfall, particularly outside of London. The retailer also closed 15 stores in the year.