Primark has appointed former Marks & Spencer director Julian Kilmartin as buying and merchandising director.

Kilmartin will replace Guy Young, who left earlier this month after joining from C&A in 2008.

He will form part of the team led by Paul Marchant, who is likely to take over the running of the business from founder Arthur Ryan. Ryan is expected to step down as managing director in September after 40 years at the helm.

Kilmartin will be responsible for clothing and homewares for Primark in the UK, Republic of Ireland and internationally. He left Marks & Spencer, where he was trading director for menswear, in November last year.

Kilmartin spent seven years in his last Marks & Spencer role and previously held positions at men’s formalwear specialist Moss Bros and Next

One retail headhunter said that Kilmartin’s strengths in men’s clothing may indicate that Primark intends to ramp up that category, building on its existing reputation in womenswear.

Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, is also still looking for a finance executive.

The value retailer has been outperforming during the recession. In the 16 weeks to June 20 its sales rose 21 per cent. The retailer now has 190 stores and 5.7 million sq ft of trading space.

Alongside its established operations in the UK and Ireland, Primark is building a store network on the Continent.