Gerard Mulliez, the chief executive officer of the supermarket group his family controls, Auchan, has named his son Arnaud as head of Auchan France’s supervisory board.

The move signals to onlookers that Mulliez (senior) is grooming his son to succeed him at the helm of the whole company. At 73, Mulliez is not expected to stand down in the immediate future, but he is keen to prepare the company for an eventual transfer of leadership. His 44-year-old son had hitherto been second in command at Auchan France.

Auchan operates in 11 countries outside France and posted 2001 turnover worth €26.2bn (US$28.7bn).