Cornell will be responsible for PepsiCos Frito-Lay North America, Quaker Foods & Snacks North America, and PepsiCo Mexico, South America Foods divisions

Cornell will be responsible for PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America, Quaker Foods & Snacks North America, and PepsiCo Mexico, South America Foods divisions

Former Wal-Mart Stores executive Brian Cornell has rejoined PepsiCo to head its food business in the Americas.

Cornell, who held a number of senior positions at PepsiCo earlier in his career, was today (12 March) named CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods. He quit as president and CEO of Wal-Mart's warehouse arm Sam's Club in January.

John Compton, who has headed PepsiCo Americas Foods since a reorganisation in 2007, will take up the new position of president of PepsiCo, responsible for integrating the snack and beverage firm's global operations and brands more closely.

The appointments come after months of investor discontent over PepsiCo's strategy, a period that has seen chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi come under pressure. Last month, Nooyi set out a series of moves to "drive growth" at the Doritos maker.

Reports today have suggested that the new roles for Cornell and Compton position both mean, along with Zein Abdalla, the head of PepsiCo Europe, as the most likely internal candidates to succeed Nooyi.

Cornell will be responsible for units including Frito-Lay North America, Quaker Foods & Snacks North America, PepsiCo's unit in Mexico and its food operations in South America Foods.

Compton will assume responsibility for all of PepsiCo's existing global category groups, operations, marketing services and corporate strategy. He will be responsible for driving innovation and brand building while looking for ways to "significantly reduce" the overall cost structure of the company.

"Today marks an important and essential step in PepsiCo's journey to continue to deliver sustainable growth," Nooyi said. "John and Brian are superb executives and will both contribute enormously in their new roles to ensure that we compete effectively and efficiently in the global marketplace."