Tesco yesterday announced that deputy chairman David Reid will become non-executive chairman when John Gardiner retires in March of next year.
The long-awaited announcement ends the uncertainty over who will replace Mr Gardiner; the Tesco board began the search for a successor in the second half of 2001.
Recruitment company Whitehead Mann was appointed to advise on the process and it interviewed all Tesco board members individually to find their views on the role of the chairman and the future for Britain's biggest supermarket group.
Mr Reid, 56, joined the board of Tesco in 1985 and became deputy chairman in 1996. He is currently responsible for international development, including the growth of the retailer's hypermarkets in Central Europe and Asia, now totalling 150 stores.
He was finance director of Tesco from 1985 to 1997 and led finance, distribution and IT during that period.
Before joining Tesco Mr Reid worked for BAT, Philips and Peat Marwick Mitchell in Paris. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.
Mr Gardiner said: "David Reid as well as being an excellent chairman, will help provide the necessary continuity for Tesco as it proceeds with the roll-out of its successful strategy.
"He has made a huge contribution in different parts of the business."
Tesco also announced that Rodney Chase, former deputy group chief executive of BP, will become deputy chairman and senior non-executive director.