Francis Ball, managing director of the UK arm of US cash and carry giant Costco, has been named as the new chairman of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.

Ball has been managing director of Costco UK since December 2004. Since he took over the role, the company has opened a further two depots and Ball has signalled that he is aiming to open three new depots a year.

Prior to taking on the managing director role, Ball was trading director at Costco.

He joined the company shortly after it opened its first UK depot at Thurrock, Essex in 1993. Prior to Costco he was chief executive of Price Club UK.

Ball, who has been a member of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors council since September 2003, replaces Rodney Hunt, managing director of the Today's Group, as Federation chairman.

Hunt has been chairman of the FWD for four years.

He became managing director of the Today's Group in July 1997, having been promoted from group trading director of Nisa-Today's.

During his time as FWD chairman, Hunt has been a prominent champion of independent retailers, demanding, for example, that the Office of Fair Trading take a tougher stance on the buying power of supermarkets, and is calling for HM Revenue & Customs to step up its action against illegal rogue traders.