The boss of discount supermarket Lidl GB, Christian Härtnagel, has been promoted to the role of CEO at Lidl Germany, the largest of the Lidl businesses, the group has announced.
Lidl GB said deputy CEO Ryan McDonnell, 44, will succeed Härtnagel, 39, as Lidl GB CEO next year.
Härtnagel will start in his new role on 1 March 2022, ending an over five-year stint in Britain, during which Lidl GB's market share has risen from 5% to 6.2% as store numbers grew from 650 to 880 and staff numbers rose from 17,000 to 26,000.
He will replace current Lidl Germany CEO and member of Lidl’s international board, Matthias Oppitz, who will take on a new international role on the board.
McDonnell is a 21-year veteran of the group and was Lidl GB's chief commercial officer for six years before becoming deputy CEO this year. He will take up his new role on 1 February.
On Wednesday, Härtnagel, said Lidl GB's German owner, the Schwarz group, was not concerned about low profitability in the British business because it is investing for the long term, setting a new target of reaching 1,100 stores by 2025.
Britain's food retail sector has been transformed in the past decade by the rise of Lidl and fellow German-owned discounter Aldi, which have driven down returns at the Big Four of Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda.
Commenting on his appointment, Härtnagel said, "It feels special, both personally and professionally, to be given the opportunity to go back to the country where I started my career many years ago, and to take the helm of the biggest market in the Lidl family.
"I’ve worked closely with Ryan [McDonnell] for some time and have every faith in his ability to lead Lidl in Great Britain, and to build on the team’s fantastic track record in recent years. I feel very proud to leave the company in such capable and safe hands. Ryan [McDonnell] and I are focused on delivering the best Christmas ever for our customers."