Maurice Pratt, the 45-year-old chief executive of Tesco Ireland and one of the country's best known retailers, is leaving the job to become managing director of Cantrell & Cochrane (C&C), the drink and snack foods group which is gearing up for a stock market flotation early next year. He will join C&C in January, replacing the group's long-time md Tony O'Brien who is to become executive chairman. "Maurice is a big brand name. I've been coaxing him to join us for some time," said O'Brien. "He's charismatic and dynamic and that is necessary for a flotation." Tesco's new Irish boss is to be Gordon Fryett, currently director of the multiple's international support office. Aged 47 and a native of Scotland, he has been working with the group since he was 17. Irish trade insiders are not surprised by Pratt's departure, though all agree that he has successfully steered Tesco through huge changes, increasing sales to 1.5 billion euros and building an estimated market share of 24%. "It's a corporate culture thing," said one. "When Tesco took over Quinnsworth four years ago, it was obvious that eventually they'd want one of their own in charge. Pratt would have been well aware of that and would have been looking around for a suitable opportunity. "There's no suggestion he has been pushed. Indeed, as one of the best known names and faces in the business, he will be a loss to Tesco as they seek to consolidate an Irish brand identity." As marketing director of the Quinnsworth chain, Pratt had personally fronted its TV advertising campaign, becoming an instantly recognisable name and face in every Irish household. He was promoted to md in 1996 when then incumbent Dick Reeves was poached by Dunnes Stores. A year later, Tesco bought the Quinnsworth chain for I£630m and, despite expectations to the contrary, Pratt remained md of an operation that now has 77 stores in the Irish Republic, employing 10,000 staff. {{NEWS }}