Former Sainsbury retail director Robin Whitbread has re-emerged in the trade as group buying director at Somerfield. He succeeds Keith Jackson, who has been charged with identifying new sales opportunities for the group in the role of new business development director. Somerfield also announced the appointment of former HSBC executive Mike Firth as a non-executive director and the departure of group marketing director Stephen Barnett, who has presided over the transfer of marketing activities at the group to two separate business units. Whitbread left Sainsbury last year after being passed over in a restructure. Somerfield chairman John von Spreckelsen said Whitbread and Firth's experience would contribute significantly to the continued recovery programme of the group. Whitbread said he was "delighted and excited to be joining the team at Somerfield," but declined to comment further until he takes up his post on July 1. The changes are a week before Somerfield announces full year results on July 3, when the City will look for evidence that it has made further progress in cutting costs. "Sales are the driver of growth, and we'll be looking at how the cleaned up stores are performing," said ABN Amro analyst James Collins. "But we want a firm indication that the operational issues are under control." The overall figures are not expected to be good. "You only have to look at Taylor Nelson figures to see they are lagging behind the market," said one analyst. "And the like for like sales growth they demonstrated in the second half suggests they haven't done anything earth shattering. There's a concern trading figures have weakened." Pre-tax, pre-exceptional profit forecasts for the year to April 27 ranged from £19m to £22m. l Subscribers to The Grocer can log on to GrocerToday for first news of the figures on Wednesday. {{NEWS }}