Marks and Spencer says the key priority for the new head of its food business will be to build on recent sales improvements. Justin King has been poached from Asda for the job, ending an eight month search for a replacement for Nigel Robertson who quit to join e-tail group LM Solutions. King, 39, has already left Asda, where he was in charge of the hypermarkets division. But M&S has still to finalise his joining date. His is the latest in a string of high profile departures from Asda in recent months. But a spokesman denied there was any talent drain at the Wal-Mart subsidiary, saying it had a strong management team in place: "We are still a hotbed of retail talent which is attractive to others." Food accounts for 40% of UK turnover at M&S and has been performing much better than the rest of the business. Like for like food sales are growing at 4.6%. A spokeswoman denied that the food business had gone off the boil during its search for a new director. King will report to Roger Holmes, who joins M&S from Kingfisher in January as md of UK Retail. {{NEWS }}