Quorn boss leaving on a high note after decade at the helm

The boss of meat-free food giant Quorn is swapping boardroom notes for musical ones after announcing plans to stand down next year to take on non-executive roles and spend more time playing with his band.

Chief executive Kevin Brennan will cap a near decade-long tenure when he hands over the reins in January.

He will be succeeded by Marco Bertacca, who was most recently managing director for Alaska Milk Corporation in the Philippines.

Mr Bertacca will start on January 6, but Mr Brennan will remain with the group until mid-2020 in a consultancy role to ensure a smooth handover.

Mr Brennan, who joined Quorn Foods from Kellogg’s in 2010, said the “time is now right” to step down and he is looking forward to playing more with his band, The County Affair.

He said: “The next five years are going to be defining for our business and requires consistent and strong leadership to chart the course that the company will take.

“After 10 years in charge, I feel I have made a significant contribution, but the time is now right for me to move on to non-executive roles, and give myself more time for my music.”

A keen guitarist, Mr Brennan formed The County Affair in 2017, playing Irish and American-influenced music.

Mr Brennan’s reign has seen Quorn – which is headquartered in Stokesley, North Yorkshire – grow into a firm with annual sales of more than £200 million, employing around 800 people and exporting to 20 countries worldwide.

The group – which is owned by Philippines-based food firm Monde Nissin – saw sales lift 7% in 2018 as it continued to benefit from the rising trend for veganism and alternatives to meat.

But the group has struggled to meet growing demand, which held back sales growth last year.

Mr Brennan’s push to increase spending on research and development – to £5 million last year – also pegged back profits, which fell 16% to £27 million in 2018.

The group recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Billingham, in the North East, with aims to double its capacity as it seeks to meet increasing demand.

Henry Soesanto, chief executive of Monde Nissin, said: “Kevin has made a transformational impact on the Quorn business, but we understand his desire to step down at this point and thank him for his commitment to the company throughout his tenure.”

He added: “We are delighted to have found a new chief executive of such a high calibre in Marco Bertacca, and are confident that his leadership will continue to drive Quorn Foods’ innovation and growth.”

Mr Bertacca has an “extensive” career in international food brands, according to Quorn, having previously held senior roles at firms including Marmite-owner Unilever.