Sainsbury's is bringing in Tesco's rising star Dido Harding to take its convenience division on to the "next level".

Harding will become convenience director, taking over the work Lawrence Christensen has been doing since June 2006.

Christensen, who will be moved to another company project when Harding starts next year, has been integrating the Jacksons and Bells head office functions into the Holborn HQ-based division. He has also started the programme to convert the Jacksons and Bells stores into Sainsbury's Locals.

Convenience is the lynchpin of chief executive Justin King's plans to generate £2.3bn extra grocery sales over next three years.

But the company recently admitted it had work to do to make Sainsbury's Local format more of a neighbourhood grocer rather than a small supermarket.

Harding's remit will be to come up with the strategy to improve the offer, which is seen by some industry experts as lacking the cohesion of Tesco Express.

"Growing our presence in the convenience channel has been an important part of our Making Sainsbury's Great Again plans," said King.

"Dido's combination of marketing, trading and operational experience means she is ideally qualified to lead the next stage of this development."

Harding, who leaves her role as CEO of Tesco's development programme, has held several senior roles at Tesco since 2001, including commercial director for added value foods and international support director.

Sainsbury's currently operates 305 convenience stores, and recently acquired 15 stores from Kwik Save.

The company plans to add 100 new stores to the convenience estate by 2010.