Tesco's fresh produce category is being shaken up as two leading figures responsible for spearheading its development move on.

Category director Alex Dower is leaving the retailer in the spring to join Pret A Manger, while Tim Lee, who is also a category director, is moving to Tesco's US convenience store venture Fresh & Easy.

Dower was chosen for the Pret A Manger brand and strategy director role because of his "terrific experience and personality", said Pret CEO Clive Schlee, adding that his experience at PepsiCo and Mars made him a "first-class guy".

Dower has been key in integrating the operations side of the fresh produce category into the rest of the business. He also introduced Tesco's 'price pledge' promotions in 2008 and oversaw Tesco's 'buy for less' programme.

His departure has come as a shock to the industry.

"He was a key player and he really was on the rise within Tesco," said one source.

Lee, meanwhile, is to take up the role of fresh trading director at Fresh & Easy. He was responsible for rolling out Tesco's global direct sourcing initiative, setting up satellite offices around the world and putting technical and buying teams in place.

Tesco is looking for replacements for the roles.

It is also making staff redundant at depots across the country as part of plans to transfer its payroll and labour planning operations to head office. The retailer has started a 30-day consultation process with managers, payroll, admin and quality control staff, with a "handful" of workers expected to leave a number of depots.

According to staff, those affected include five employees from Weybridge, nine from Southampton, six from Magor, seven from Thurrock, four from Belfast and seven from Antrim.

"We have been told there are only a certain amount of jobs for certain areas and we have to re-apply for roles," said one employee. Tesco, which has 24 depots in the UK, said it was a growing business and would look to find new roles for those affected.