He replaces Chris Etherington, who took the position in 2012. Etherington played a key role in the National Grocer’s Benevolent Fund and Sweet Charity – the confectioners’ benevolent fund – that formed GroceryAid.
GroceryAid chief executive Steve Barnes said: “We are very much looking forward to working with Ruston, who has always been incredibly enthusiastic about what we do. Exciting times lie ahead with GroceryAid under his leadership.”
Smith joined the GroceryAid board in 2008 and became vice-chairman in 2016. He was also a member of the Welfare Strategy Group since 2008 and chairman since 2010.
He has served as group director of pensions and insurable risk at Tesco since 2002 and has spent 12 years at consumer goods manufacturer PZ Cussons.
Ruston said: “I feel incredibly privileged to be appointed chair of GroceryAid, which is a fantastic charitable organisation that, for over 159 years, has helped those in our industry who have fallen on hard times.
“I would like to thank Chris for the exceptional contribution he has made and I’m really looking forward to working with Steve, the board and the GroceryAid team to make a real difference for those we’re here to help.”
‘Served our industry’
Barnes also thanked Etherington for his contribution to the charity and “ensuring people who have served our industry get all the support they merit when they fall on hard times”.
GroceryAid is the trading name of the National Grocers’ Benevolent Fund. It supports people in the UK who have worked, or are working, in the grocery supply chain.
The charity hoped to spend more than £4.3M on welfare support for grocery industry workers, both financially and through its GroceryAid Helpline.
Meanwhile, the Co-op’s Food business boss is to become the new group ceo, following the departure of Richard Pennycook.