Car parts and bicycle retailer Halfords has named former Tesco director David Wild chief executive after a four-month search.
Manchester-born Mr Wild, who worked at supermarket giant Tesco for 18 years, will start on August 4.
He replaces the group’s highly-rated boss of three years Ian McLeod, who disappointed the City in February with news he was quitting to run supermarket chain Coles in Australia.
Mr Wild, 53, joins from Asda parent Wal-Mart, where he acted as senior vice-president for new business development.
The retail veteran worked at Tesco in a raft of roles, including head of its Central European operation and group supply chain director.
Halfords director of trading Paul McClenaghan and finance director Nick Wharton have been leading the firm as acting joint managing directors since Mr McLeod’s departure.
The former chief executive had been credited with driving good performance from Halfords, having also expanded the group domestically and overseas, with store numbers up from 375 to 440 during his tenure.
The Redditch-based business said it was “confident” its incoming boss would add value to the business.
Richard Pym, chairman of Halfords, said: “He brings over 20 years’ retailing experience, gained at two world-leading businesses, and clearly has the skills and ability to move the company forward.”
Mr Wild has worked at Wal-Mart in his current role since last January, before which he acted as president and managing director of Wal-Mart Germany.
He said Halfords was a business he had “known and admired from the outside for many years”.
“Halfords has some very attractive market positions and exciting opportunities for continued growth as well as sound defensive qualities,” he added.
The firm recently posted an 11.5 per cent hike in pre-tax profits for the year to March 28, with sales 7.2 per cent stronger at £797.4 million as it said it was benefiting from a “resurgent” cycling market.
The Bikehut-owner has seen demand for cycles rise as more commuters swapped their cars for bikes to get to work, while its car maintenance arm has also been boosted by the trend for cash-strapped motorists to keep older models on the road.
Halfords, which originally started life in Birmingham, also said that the number of car and cycle repair jobs it carried out rose 13 per cent during the past year to 1.3 million.
Car maintenance comprises around a quarter of the group’s sales, with cycle sales contributing a third and the remainder coming from car enhancement products like satellite navigation systems.
At the time, Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, described Halfords results as “sturdy” and underpinned the group’s defensive qualities.
He added: “The group’s trusted brand name continues to generate momentum in car maintenance sales, whilst a retrenchment by UK consumers may be adding to the attractions of lower cost camping holidays, again playing into the group’s hands.
“Furthermore, high fuel prices and environmental trends give weight to the company’s strength in bicycle sales.”