UK – Mark & Spenser (M&S) has announced four new senior appointments as the British retailer moves to reinforce its food division ahead of the online joint venture with Ocado next year.

The retailer has appointed former Tesco strategy director, Pav Anand as its head of food strategy and special products.

M&S has also named Lisa Raschia, Sainsbury’s head of technical fresh as the head of produce and horticulture. Raschia has also worked with Tesco for nine years in various roles including category buying manager of prepared foods.

M&S said that the Raschia’s appointment was important in supporting the produce category as the retailer seeks to further to expand in the sector, which it has identified as an opportunity for growth.

In addition, former supply chain director at Danish Crown, David Stokes has been appointed as M&S head of sourcing, where he will be accountable for co-ordinating sourcing strategy across all categories.

Laurissa Kuligowski, a former PwC consultant, will also join the team as commercial strategy and operations manager.

The new team will report to food commercial director George Wright, who also joined M&S earlier this year after departing Tesco as commercial director for convenience.

M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin, who is overseeing the transformation of M&S’s food division, said the appointments marks “good progress on our food transformation, but we know this is just the first stage of a multi-year plan.”

As part of his transformation, Machin has improved prices and the supply chain as well as launching a new-format food halls and stores designed to better showcase M&S’s range and quality and to help boost sales volumes.

Earlier this year, M&S announced a US$996.67 million (£750 million) joint venture with online grocer Ocado, which will enable M&S to sell its food range online for the first time starting next year.

According to M&S, the 50/50 Joint Venture is set to ‘transform online grocery shopping for UK consumers by combining the strength of M&S’s brand and its leading food quality and innovation with Ocado’s unique and proprietary technology to create an unrivalled online offer for customers.