The former managing director of Woolworths South Africa, Andrew R Jennings, has been named the new CEO of German department store group Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH.

He will take up the post on 1 January 2011, replacing restructuring expert Thomas Fox who will stay at the company on an interim basis to hand over responsibilities.

British-born Jennings is a retail industry veteran who has worked at Harrods and House of Fraser in England, Brown Thomas in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada and Saks Fifth Avenue in the US. His most recent role was managing director of Woolworth's South Africa, where he led the restructuring of the company with 400 department stores and was responsible for a turnover of US$2.8bn.

Jennings is now tasked with modernising and growing the German store group after it was sold to investment company Berggruen Holdings in September. The retailer, previously owned by collapsed corporation Arcandor AG, operates 86 department stores and 26 sporting goods stores and employs some 25,000 staff.

He says his role is "to create a more dynamic retail emporium of discovery and delight for its key customers.

"I am confident that we have the potential to enhance our position as a truly world-class retailer benchmarked against the best in the industry."