Greggs (LSE: GRG) has announced that the successor to chief executive Ken McMeikan will be Roger Whiteside, currently chief executive of Punch Taverns, one of the UK's largest leased pub companies with a portfolio of around 4,500 pubs nationwide.
Whiteside has been a non-executive director of Greggs since March 2008, and will take up his new role from 4 February. Following a handover period, McMeikan will step down from the board and leave the company on 8 March.
Whiteside commented: "I joined the Greggs Board in 2008 and I have been impressed with the team, which I have got to know well. I look forward to working with them to further develop our strategy. Greggs is a great business with an iconic brand that has strengthened considerably over the past few years. I believe we have a great future."
He spent 20 years at Marks & Spencer, ultimately becoming head of its food business, and then became one of the founding team of Ocado, serving as joint managing director from 2000-2004. From 2004-2007, he led a successful business turnaround as chief executive of the Thresher Group off-licence chain, before joining Punch Taverns.
Greggs chairman Derek Netherton commented:
"We are delighted to announce the appointment of Roger as chief executive. Not only has he got considerable management experience in retailing and food but also, as a non-executive director of Greggs during a period of significant change, he has been involved in developing the strategy. He is very well respected within the company and his appointment will enable a smooth transition in what is still a challenging consumer environment.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ken for his leadership since joining Greggs in 2008. Despite the double-dip recession, the company has grown its core estate significantly, opening record numbers of new shops in a variety of locations and formats, and entering new channels to market through franchising and wholesaling. He has also considerably enhanced Greggs' commitment to putting the community at the heart of the business. Ken will leave us with our very best wishes for his continued success in the future."
McMeikan is to take charge of Brakes Group, a privately owned supplier of food to hotels, hospitals and schools. He became chief executive of Greggs during 2008, after which the group's store count increased from 1,409 to 1,571 to help annual sales advance 12% to £701m and operating profits climb 20% to £53m.
Mr McMeikan announced his impending departure from the company back in early December, which saw a slight dip in the shares at the time. Management can make all the difference to a company's success, and is a key value sought by no less than one of the greatest investors the world has ever seen, Warren Buffett.
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