Tesco has been attempting to turn the fortunes of its struggling UK business around

Tesco has been attempting to turn the fortunes of its struggling UK business around

Tesco is reported to be close to appointing a chief executive for its UK division, with its COO in the country, Chris Bush, said to be a frontrunner.

The role has been vacant since Richard Brasher stepped down in March, which Tesco said came after group CEO Philip Clarke opted "to take a much closer involvement in the UK business".

Since then, Clarke has taken control of the retailer's UK operations in a bid to stem falling sales.

An announcement on the appointment of a new boss for Tesco's UK business, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of profits, could be made "within the next few months", The Financial Times said, citing people familiar with the matter. The appointment could be announced as early as January, when Tesco is scheduled to provide an update on its Christmas and New Year trading.

Any appointment, however, is expected only once the UK business has stabilised, the FT noted. Any "setback" over Christmas could see the appointment put on hold, it said, adding that no final decision has yet been made.

A spokesperson for Tesco declined to comment on the report.

Tesco has been attempting to turn the fortunes of its struggling UK business around through investing in more staff, improving its product offering, and refreshing or refitting some 430 stores in 2012/13.

In October, Tesco reported a 12.4% drop in first-half trading profit for its UK division to GBP1.12bn, with like-for-like sales down 0.7%. Earlier this month, like-for-like sales excluding fuel and VAT were down 0.6% in the retailer's third quarter.