Waitrose has poached Asda's head development chef Neil Nugent and appointed him to the newly created role of executive chef.

Nugent has been with Asda for 12 years and has also had many years of experience outside retail as a head chef in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Waitrose said his appointment would help the company accelerate its programme of NPD.

"Neil has a formidable record as a chef and a depth of food knowledge that will be invaluable to our business," said Richard Hodgson, Waitrose's commercial director. "He will bring vital insight and skill in our drive to further raise the bar in product quality."

Nugent will leave Asda in May and the retailer is now looking for a replacement.

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery," said an Asda spokesman. "So it speaks volumes about the quality of our own-label food that Waitrose has poached our development chef. We would like to thank Neil for all he's done over the years to champion the quality of our food."

Before joining Asda Nugent worked with Sainsbury's to develop the Gary Rhodes range of ready meals called Fresh Creations, but started his career working in restaurants in London and France.

He also worked in restaurants in Yorkshire, including the Leeds-based Pool Court, which won a Michelin star within nine months of opening. Nugent co-owns Yorkshire restaurant J Bakers Bistro, which holds a Bib Gourmand, a category created by Michelin for restaurants serving more reasonably-priced food.

In January, Nugent had told The Grocer the most rewarding part of his job was "seeing people buy the things I have created" but said he found it frustrating when he made "fantastic recipes which cannot be replicated on the shelves".