The marketing chief of Wal-Mart Stores' operations in China, Stephen Smith, has been appointed to lead the marketing for the retail giant's UK unit, Asda.

Set to join Asda's executive committee in May, Smith replaces Rick Bendel, who has taken a global marketing role at parent group Wal-Mart.

Smith, 41, joined Wal-Mart in July last year and is currently chief marketing officer for its unit in China. He previously spent ten years working in marketing and merchandising roles in grocery retail with Belgian retailer Delhaize Group in North America and Belgium.

"I was delighted that Steve joined Wal-Mart last year and will now bring his retail marketing pedigree to the UK," said Asda president and CEO Andy Clarke. "I've been an admirer of Steve's work at overseas Delhaize retail brands such as Sweetbay, Hannaford and Delhaize Le Lion, for many years and I'm certain he'll be a valuable addition to the Asda executive team".

Smith's predecessor, Bendel will take on a broader "project-based" role for Wal-Mart, in what Asda says is "a natural next step" following three years as international CMO for Wal-Mart.

"Because this is a time of strength for Asda, it now seems the perfect time for Rick to do more to help shape Walmart's worldwide marketing efforts and embark on the next exciting phase of his career," Clarke said.