Former Waitrose managing director Steven Esom has been appointed chairman of BRC Trading the commercial arm of the British Retail Consortium, The Grocer can reveal.

Esom will take over at the beginning of April from David Adams, who has been acting as interim chairman since Gordon Brown stepped down from the role in August last year. From April, Adams will move to the role of non-­executive director.

"BRC Trading is going from strength to strength," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson. "It's a measure of its success that someone of Steven's calibre has chosen to take on this role. As it enters its second decade, we have big ambitions to grow BRC Trading and we are looking forward to working with Steven on the next phase of our development."

Keith Evans, chief executive officer of BRC Trading, added: "With the BRC Global Standards supplier-certification scheme at the heart of what BRC Trading does, Steven's years of experience in retailing, and in food in particular, will be invaluable. His work chairing a steering group for the FSA has demonstrated his ability to mediate between diverse opinions across the food sector and he is held in high regard."

Esom was managing ­director of Waitrose from 2002 to 2007 before moving to Marks & Spencer to lead its food business. He left M&S a year later and has since taken on a string of non-executive director roles.

He is on the board of directors at Braham & Murray, the company behind Good Oil and Good Hemp, and holds non-executive directorships at Cranswick, Carphone Warehouse and Tyrrells. He is also a partner at private equity firm Langholm Capital, which last year acquired Barts Spices and Tyrrells. He is also chairman of the FSA's Retailer Hygiene Rating Scheme.

BRC Trading was formed in 2001 and provides services including the BRC Global Standards and Directory Database and the training associated with its product-safety certification scheme, as well as BRC events and publications.