Lidl UK has appointed Christian Härtnagel as its CEO with immediate effect, following the surprise departure of Ronny Gottschlich last week.

Härtnagel, 34, has been with Lidl since 2003 and held a variety of roles, including regional director at Lidl Ireland. He was most recently board director for Lidl Austria, where he was responsible for sales and operations.

He would now seek to move the GB business forward and “secure its ongoing market growth, including the continuation of Lidl GB’s ambitious investment plans which will see store numbers potentially more than double to 1,500 in the long term”, Lidl said.

Gottschlich, who had been Lidl’s UK MD for six years, had rolled out additional benefits for workers such as matching the independently verified living wage and offering a staff discount.

He describes himself on networking site LinkedIn as: “An internationally experienced Chief Executive from within the food retailing sector with a demonstrable record of achievement leading transformational programmes and delivering YoY growth in highly competitive market environments.”

In the financial year 2015, Lidl Great Britain achieved revenue of £4.7bn from its 630 stores in England, Scotland and Wales.