Chocolate retailer Thorntons has appointed a key player in the revival of Somerfield as its new executive chairman.
John von Spreckelsen will work on a strategic plan for the company as it battles to revive profits in the face of intense retail competition.
Senior independent director John Jackson began the search for a new chairman in February after the departure of Christopher Burnett in the wake of a failed takeover attempt.
Mr Jackson said: "The board are delighted that they have secured the services of such a high calibre retail professional who has a proven track record of delivering excellent shareholder returns in the businesses he has managed."
The new chairman served as chief executive of Budgens for nine years before moving to Somerfield in 2000 as executive chairman.
He launched an overhaul of the chain and grew profits for four years in a row before reducing his commitment to the group in 2004. Somerfield was taken over for £1.1 billion last year after rejecting a £594 million offer three years earlier. His new role at Thorntons will see Mr von Spreckelsen work closely with the company's executive directors in determining a strategic plan.
He said: "Thorntons has an excellent product range and brand. I am looking forward to making a contribution to this company which has a great tradition and heritage."
Thorntons said in February that profits had fallen to £12.8 million for the 28 weeks to January 7, down four per cent after weak Christmas sales left turnover 6.2 per cent lower at £112.3 million.
The festive slowdown prompted Mr Burnett to lower his bid for Thorntons to £87.4 million from £124 million previously. Independent directors at the company subsequently broke off talks, leading to the departure of Mr Burnett.
In a research note, Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner noted that both Budgens and Somerfield were taken over at substantially higher prices than were prevailing when Mr von Spreckelsen took control.