Carrefour has tasked its new chief executive with driving the group’s own-label offer and shifting its focus from non-food back to food in the wake of José Luis Duran’s dismissal. Lars Olofsson, Nestlé’s vice-president in charge of strategic business units, marketing and sales, had been tipped as a future CEO role at the manufacturer.

But after 32 years at the business, the Swede – a fluent French speaker – has jumped ship to help Carrefour accelerate its transformation programme and reverse a 45% share price slump. One of his priorities would be the group’s own label offer, said a spokeswoman.

“We are creating our own products and need to work on our brand,” she said. “This will be a real challenge for Carrefour, and Olofsson has those skills. He has a profound knowledge of the market in which Carrefour operates.” Olofsson’s manufacturing background would be an asset, said analysts, citing Marc Bolland’s appointment at Morrisons and Justin King’s at Sainsbury's. “His personal qualities make him a great choice,” added Amoroso director and consultant, James Amoroso. “He is extremely honest and open and not afraid to make tough decisions.” Olofsson will officially join Carrefour in January 2009. Nestlé’s executive vice president and chief technology officer Werner Bauer will temporarily take on Olofsson’s former responsibilities from this week, until a permanent appointment is made. Olofsson’s move comes two months after Paul Polman, Nestlé’s US head, moved to Unilever as CEO.