Wesfarmers Limited has hired the former head of McDonald's operations in China and Australia to lead the turnaround of Kmart, the general merchandise chain it acquired last year as part of its AUD19.8bn (US$16.7bn) takeover of Australian retail group Coles.

Guy Russo will take up the post of managing director of Kmart on 1 October.

Wesfarmers' managing director, Richard Goyder, said Russo's depth of experience and expertise in running and expanding McDonald's operations in Australia would be invaluable in effecting the turnaround of the Kmart business.

He added that Russo has a brilliant track record and a wealth of experience that made him "ideally suited to effect the change needed to restore Kmart to a market leader."

Mark Goddard, who has been acting managing director since April this year, will continue with the business in the role of Kmart's director of merchandising and marketing.

Kmart is a discount department store retailer offering a wide range of low-cost merchandise ranging from apparel to hardware and leisure goods. It operates 182 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand.