Internet savvy directors are poised to become the CEOs of the future, a study by headhunters has claimed.

Korn Ferry Whitehead Mann interviewed 30 CEOs to find out how they were tackling innovation and found 70% of leading retailers had appointed a new director to their web operations since late 2010. Among the most high-profile hires was Laura Wade-Gery’s defection from Tesco to join M&S as executive director of multi-channel e-commerce.

“The multi-channel director is pulling the strings on much of the innovation in retail and his or her remit is likely to continue to expand,” said Sally Elliott, head of retail at KFWM. “In the years to come this will emerge as the starring role.”