The grocery merry-go-round was spinning faster than ever this week. Hot on the heels of Sir Terry Leahy announcing his retirement from Tesco, Morrisons announced it had poached Waitrose commercial director Richard Hodgson.

At Waitrose, Hodgson, who was born in Leeds and is understood to have been keen to return to the north of England, has developed a reputation as a tough operator among suppliers.

After joining Waitrose from Asda in 2006, his negotiations over price and trading terms had some suppliers re-naming Waitrose as "Wasda".

His appointment as group commercial director is the first significant move by CEO Dalton Philips, who joined in March. To make room, Morrisons group trading director Martyn Jones has been shifted into the new role of group corporate services director.

Jones has spent 20 years with Morrisons in key trading positions. In his new role he will be responsible for government affairs, corporate responsibility, PR and food safety. He will also step down from the board when he assumes the new role in September.

Morrisons, which has traditionally not been as involved in lobbying and PR as its rivals, said the creation of the role reflected its "commitment to playing its full part in the national agenda on food and food-related matters".

Hodgson's introduction and the transfer of Jones away from frontline trading has further fuelled speculation over the future of other senior figures at Morrisons, such as CFO Richard Pennycook and retail director Mark Gunter.

Meanwhile, Waitrose has replaced Hodgson with supply chain director Mark Williamson, who joined Waitrose in 2004 as head of buying before becoming supply chain director in 2007. He previously worked for Tesco and Sainsbury's.

The retailer is moving responsibility for marketing away from commercial and has promoted Rupert Thomas to the board as marketing director.

It has also appointed Matthew Frost to the new role of head of grocery buying. He joins from Asda in August.