Somerfield is strengthening the ties between its two retail operations, despite the decision this week to set up a separate business unit to manage its Somerfield fascia stores. Somerfield chief executive Alan Smith said the group had been prompted to set up the unit by the success of the Kwik Save business unit established 18 months ago. He said the move would provide greater focus to the retail operation of Somerfield fascia stores, but emphasised that the group was working to develop greater synergies between the two retail operations. Smith said: "In areas such as the supply chain and IT we are looking to develop single operations which will take out cost." Smith said the formation of the new unit would not directly affect suppliers, because buying would remain as a central function to exploit the combined financial muscle of the two store operations. Retail operations director Bill Williams will be managing director of the Somerfield business unit which will be responsible for 590 Somerfield stores. His new executive team will include Nigel Broadhurst, who will transfer from the Kwik Save business unit to become commercial director, Julian Barrett as business performance director and Martin Moran as interim retail director. Broadhurst's replacement as Kwik Save commercial director is David Coxon, who is currently working for Kwik Save looking after its retail partners. He will continue to be responsible for that side of the business. Williams commented: "Over the past 12 months Somerfield has made considerable progress in improving store standards, focusing on product range, presentation and availability. "However, we still have work to do to improve our business. The creation of the Somerfield business unit will allow us to focus on the customer offer and to drive sales and profits." Smith said the new unit had already begun operation and its formation would completed by mid-March. Elements of the group marketing department will transfer to the respective business units, but Stephen Barnett will remain group marketing director and will be responsible for the transition. Smith said Barnett's role would be to advise on group strategy and the development of the distinct brand fascia strategies. {{NEWS }}