Laird is a former COO of Midcounties Co-operative Society and owns management consultancy business Future First.
The Today’s Group had the potential to grow despite the recession, he said.
“It’s a business that has great potential for the future and I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think I could help the business grow,” he said.
“It is a leading player in the sector and it’s great to get this opportunity. Having worked for Midcounties Co-op, I enjoy working in an environment that’s a mutual and it’s a model I understand.”
The best way the Today’s Group could help its members was to negotiate the best deals to allow them to compete in a value-obsessed market, he added.
Nisa-Today’s said Laird’s experience of retail, wholesale, foodservice and senior management made him the right man for the job.
At Midcounties Co-op he led a sustained period of growth and business change. He has also worked for Asda, Woolworths and Somerfield.
Hunt, who announced in June last year that he was to step down, has been with the business for 27 years and helped build it into the biggest buying group in the UK - its members have a combined turnover of £5bn.
Hunt, who helped to choose his successor, said Laird’s retail experience would help him better understand the 1,000 Today’s Retail Club members.
“Bill will make an excellent managing director,” he said. “He has strong management experience and will get on very well with the members. And he has good retail experience that will help him take the group forward. He will ensure that Today’s Group remains the foremost in the sector, the largest and the most effective.”
Hunt said that he was not planning to stop work after he left the Today’s Group at the end of March, but was considering a number of non-executive positions and charity work.