Canning, marketing director of News Group Newspapers for the past two-and-a-half years, will replace Sara Jamison as marketing director of Iceland. Jamison has resigned and is leaving in the new year.
Canning's appointment comes at a crucial time for Iceland, which received a surprising boost last week when Icelandic firm Baugur snapped up a 15% stake in its parent company.
The chain has been struggling with its promotional strategy and has been forced to issue a series of profits warnings. It blamed a recent sales collapse on making too quick a move away from buy-one-get-one-free offers toward every day low pricing.
Chief executive Bill Grimsey hopes a series of new store formats will stem a 7.7% fall in quarterly sales to the end of September.
The company said Jamison's departure was amicable, and added that she would oversee a "smooth transition". Jamison's tenure as Iceland's marketing director since 2000 has been a torrid one, following its disastrous repositioning from cheap frozen food retailer to organic groceries specialist.
According to Taylor Nelson Sofres, Iceland occupies ninth slot in the league table of UK grocery chains with a 2.6% market share, sandwiched between Waitrose and Kwik-Save. It has 760 UK stores.
Canning, a former Heinz marketer and KP Foods marketing director, was not available for comment on whether he would review the chain's £15m ad arrangements. However, industry sources suggested he would undertake a comprehensive review of Iceland's marketing strategy, which is likely to include its agency relationships. It works with creative agency HHCL and Partners and media agency MediaCom.