Tesco is close to hiring a UK chief executive, with chief operating officer Chris Bush emerging as a frontrunner for the role.

The appointment could come as early as January, when the grocer updates on its key Christmas trading period, according to the Financial Times.

The role will replace Richard Brasher, who stepped down as UK chief executive in March.

Since then group chief executive Philip Clarke has taken on direct control of the UK business. Clarke is in the middle of a turnaround of Tesco’s UK business, which issued its first profit warning in 20 years in January.

Fresh Foods commercial director John Scouler is also believed to be in the frame for the position while his predecessor Andrew Yaxley is without a permanent position and has been rumoured to be in line for a country chief executive role.