French retail giant Carrefour has appointed Nestlé veteran Lars Olofsson as its chief executive.

Olofsson will take over from José Luis Durán on 1 January next year. Duran will remain with the company for an unspecified transitional period, Carrefour said in a statement today (18 November).

Olofsson is currently responsible for strategic business units, marketing and sales for Nestlé's global businesses. He has also headed up Nestlé France, before being promoted to oversee all European activities.

"Lars Olofsson has exceptional experience in consumer markets, built over more than 30 years, both in France and internationally, within the number one global food industry group," Amaury de Sèze, chairman of Carrefour's board, said. 

"His strong leadership and sales and marketing expertise make him the ideal leader for Carrefour to carry out the next stage of the group's development."

Carrefour's board praised Duran for his contributions to the company over the past 18-years. "He laid the necessary foundations for the group's further development," the board said in a statement.

However, his replacement marks the culmination of long-standing tensions over Carrefour's performance and strategy.

Speculation over Duran's future at the helm of Carrefour has mounted since last year, when French billionaire Bernard Arnault and a US private-equity firm, Colony Capital, jointly became Carrefour's largest shareholder.

Arnault, who has pushed for an increase in investor returns, subsequently took up a position on the company's board and in July, shareholders voted to change the company's management structure, creating a board that excluded Duran.