Logistics expert Lawrence Christensen is stepping into a new role at Sainsbury from today.

Christensen, who was supply chain director for Sainsbury, takes over the responsibilities of Jim McCarthy, the supermarket group's managing director of convenience, who is leaving the role in September.

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury said that Christensen would take up the role until the end of Sainsbury's financial year in March 2007.

He will work with McCarthy to ensure a smooth handover, reporting to chief executive officer Justin King.

The move marks a new challenge for Christensen. He was originally drafted in by Sainsbury in September 2004 as supply chain director for a set term of 16 months. He was tasked with tackling the problems afflicting its supply chain, including its four automated warehouses, and also in helping Sainsbury recruit his long-term successor.

In January this year Roger Burnley, supply chain director for discount retailer Matalan, was appointed as his replacement and Christensen's 16-month term was extended so that he could continue to support Sainsbury's management in an advisory capacity until December 2006.

He worked alongside Burnley to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities until Burnley fully took over the role in March, leaving Christensen to work in a part-time consulting role.

Prior to Sainsbury, Christensen was group operations director for Safeway. He joined Safeway in 1974 as distribution controller and in 1987 was appointed to the board as logistics director.

McCarthy, who was instrumental in developing Sainsbury's convenience store division, announced in May that he was leaving after two years to be chief executive officer of discount retailer Poundland.