Morrisons has looked overseas for the second time for its new boss, who will be coming from Canada.

The Bradford-based group has named 41-year-old Dalton Philips as chief executive to succeed Marc Bolland, who is leaving to run Marks & Spencer.

Morrisons chairman Sir Ian Gibson said Mr Philips had a “tremendous retail pedigree” and would start his new job in March.

Since January 2007, Mr Philips has been chief operating officer of Loblaw Companies Ltd, Canada’s largest food distributor and a leading provider of general merchandise, pharmacy and financial products and services. The company has more than 1,000 stores and a turnover of £18 billion. Before that he was chief executive of Irish department store group Brown Thomas.

Between 1998 and 2005, Mr Philips worked for Wal-Mart’s international division, holding several commercial positions and rising to chief operating officer in Germany.

He started his career as a store manager in New Zealand with Jardine Matheson, and was later regional director of the company’s Spanish supermarket division.

Morrisons has acted quickly to plug the gap left by Mr Marc Bolland, 50, who is credited with restoring the company’s fortunes in recent years, which has seen it outpace its main high street rivals. He joined in 2006 from Dutch brewer Heineken to succeed Sir Ken Morrison, whose father William launched Morrisons as a Bradford market stall in 1899.

Morrisons is the UK’s fourth largest supermarket with 422 stores and more than 120,000 staff.

Last week it announced that total sales over the Christmas period leapt by more than 11 per cent, keeping the group ahead of its main rivals in the seasonal race for the fourth consecutive year.

Sir Ian said: “I am delighted that Dalton will be joining Morrisons as chief executive. He has a tremendous retail pedigree and a wealth of experience from senior retail positions around the world. I look forward to welcoming him to the great team at Morrisons.”

The appointment confounds pundits who were tipping finance director Richard Pennycook as 6-4 favourite for the top job. Other runners were Waitrose boss Mark Price, Tesco’s Tim Mason and Marks & Spencer’s Ian Dyson.

Phillip Wong, of stockbrokers Redmayne Bentley, who supply the T&A share information, said: “His appointment did not affect the firm’s share price. The market will wait and see what he does before reacting.”