Speculation that Tesco is to take on Wal-Mart in its own backyard was boosted by the news that Smith has been in the US for two months. Industry insiders believe Tesco is examining a number of options in the US.
Smith’s former responsibilities have been split between former chief executive for Tesco’s One Stop convenience division, Steve Murrells, and Steve Ager.
Murrells will be commercial director for fresh food, looking after produce, meat, fish and poultry. Tesco said it expected the search for his replacement to take a couple of months. One Stop trading director Bill O’Neill will act in the role in the interim.
Ager has come back from China to become commercial director for grocery, impulse, frozen food, petrol and tobacco.