Asda commercial director of fresh food Nick Scrase has been promoted to MD of Walmart's direct sourcing business International Produce Limited (IPL).

His appointment marks the expansion of the UK-based division beyond its fruit and veg remit into other food products, with Feta cheese, Belgian pâté, Italian cheeses and Italian filled fresh pasta among the first items to be added.

IPL, which was set up by two external companies in 2004 following a feasibility study by Asda, was bought out by Walmart last October.

It was founded to serve Asda, cutting out the middleman by developing in-house teams in designated countries to reduce supply chain costs. It has since expanded its coverage to source for Walmart globally. Walmart's move into chilled and ambient goods is part of its plan to grow the global sourcing business four-fold by 2015.

The IPL model had been shown to work across fresh produce, said Scrase. He claimed extending it to other centrally bought foods would ensure the retailer's costs were reduced, leading to lower prices for the consumer.

"We will also soon be supplying our stores in the US and Mexico with olives, olive oil, confectionery, wine and whisky, all managed through our Spanish hub," he added.

"IPL allows us to improve freshness and quality because we control the in-country logistics and we are developing closer grower and manufacturer relationships."

The business now employs about 1,000 staff across the world, including South America, Europe, South Africa, Morocco and New Zealand, but its head office is in Normanton, West Yorkshire, and it has a second UK site in Sittingbourne, Kent.

Scrase is replaced at Asda by Emma Fox, who has spent 12 years at the retailer, latterly as commercial director for ambient. In her new role, Fox's priority will be to "drive the quality perception" of Asda's fresh food offer. In the reshuffle, Barry Williams, category director for impulse grocery and BWS, takes over Fox's role in ambient.