Richard Brasher, the head of Tesco’s operations in the UK, has decided to leave the business, it emerged today (15 March).

In a statement to the London stock exchange, Tesco said Brasher’s move came “as a consequence of [group] CEO Philip Clarke’s decision to take a much closer involvement in the UK business”.

Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, has struggled in its domestic market in recent months. The company’s underlying sales in the UK have fallen for four consecutive quarters and it is embarking on a series of initiatives to revitalise its domestic business. It admitted in January that the investment will have slowed earnings growth in its last financial year, which ran until the end of February, and will hit earnings growth in its new fiscal year.

Clarke said: “I have decided to assume responsibility as the CEO of our UK business at this very important time. This greater focus will allow me to oversee the improvements that are so important for customers. I completely understand why Richard has decided to leave and want to thank him for the great contribution he has made over many years. The depth of management at Tesco and the strong leadership team across the group allow me to take a more active role in the UK whilst our other businesses continue to grow.”

He added: “Richard has been an architect of our successful format strategy; a true innovator with both Clubcard and the dunnhumby partnership; and over the last ten years has led the transformation of our non-food business and the creation of international sourcing.

 He will leave behind a UK business which has very strong plans for improvement, and over the last two months these plans are beginning to show progress, in line with our expectations.  I am more determined than ever that these improvements in the UK will result in a better Tesco and an even better shopping trip for customers.”