It is understood Nugent will work with group commercial director Richard Hodgson and new own-brand director Belinda Youngs as Morrisons looks to improve own-label quality ahead of an expected relaunch this year.
Morrisons will be the fourth major supermarket that Nugent has worked for. He followed Hodgson to Waitrose from Asda in 2008, having spent 12 years as a development chef with the Walmart subsidiary.
Before joining Asda, Nugent worked with Sainsbury's to develop the Gary Rhodes Fresh Creations ready meal range.
Own label was identified as a key area for improvement by Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips when he made his first public strategy announcement last September. At the time Philips said he wanted to "transform its own label into a distinctive Morrisons brand" and Nugent will be expected to drive a programme of quality improvement and NPD.
Morrisons currently under-indexes in own label compared with its supermarket rivals. Its sales are split at about 55% brand/ 45% own label, while at the other supermarkets these numbers are reversed. Nugent started his career as a chef at restaurants in London and France. He then worked at Leeds-based Pool Court, which won a Michelin star within nine months of opening. He co-owns J Baker's Bistro in York, which holds a Bib Gourmand.
He is understood to have enjoyed a close working relationship with Hodgson in the past. When Hodgson lured him from Asda to Waitrose, he described Nugent as "having a formidable record as a chef and a depth of food knowledge that will be invaluable to our business. He will bring vital insight and skill in our drive to further raise the bar in product quality."
Nugent was most recently involved in the establishment of Waitrose's cookery school in west London and last year predicted sous vide would be the next big thing in ready meals.