In a major coup for Sainsbury's, Rudoe, who left Ocado three months ago, is understood to be joining the retailer with a brief for e-commerce, working alongside Tanya Lawler, the current director of direct channels.
The retailer would not confirm the move. "We do not comment on rumour and speculation," said a spokesman.
But suppliers claimed he was "frogmarched out the building" when bosses discovered he had been discussing a potential move to a rival. In April, Ocado promoted head of corporate finance and investor relations Lawrence Hene to Rudoe's old position.
As Ocado's first head of retail, Rudoe was instrumental in building the retailer's national coverage and is also credited with developing its own-label range. The Cambridge University and Harvard Business School graduate was promoted to the role from head of trading and marketing in 2008, extending his responsibilities to cover logistics and supplier relations.
At Sainsbury's, Rudoe will be expected to continue driving its burgeoning online business, which is growing 20% year-on-year and boasts weekly orders regularly topping 130,000. This week, the retailer revealed it had maintained the strong growth, with sales up more than 20% in the 12 weeks to 11 June.
It has boosted its online offer in both food and non-food recently. Earlier this month, it announced plans to dramatically expand its Click & Collect order service. The service, which allows shoppers to order non-food items online and pick them up from their nearest store, is currently available in 400 stores. Sainsbury's plans to reach more than 800 including c-stores by Christmas.
Unlike Tesco, Ocado and Asda, Sainsbury's does not have a dedicated dark store for online orders, and the 93% of households served by the offer receive their deliveries from 187 stores. Waitrose plans to open its first dark store in October.