People on the move: Nestlé and Tesco

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Richard Watson (pictured) has been appointed the new chief executive of Nestle UK and Ireland
Richard Watson (pictured) has been appointed the new chief executive of Nestle UK and Ireland

Related tags appointments people on the move

Nestlé UK and Ireland and Tesco both announced changes to their senior teams in the past week.

Nestlé UK appoints new chief executive

Nestlé UK and Ireland has appointed Richard Watson as its new chief executive.

Watson – current managing director of Nestlé Confectionery in the UK and Ireland, a role he has held for the past six years – will take on his new role in his 27th​ year with the manufacturer.

“I am honoured and incredibly excited to be taking on such an important role at such an important time.” Said Watson. “The UK and Ireland means a lot to Nestlé and it means a lot to me. I first joined Nestlé Purina in the UK in 1996 and have been lucky enough to build a career here over the last quarter of a century.

“This is one of Nestlé’s biggest markets and, from experience, I know it’s a great place to do business, to innovate, to grow and to work with very talented people. Equally, I know Nestlé continues to have a huge role to play in the UK and Ireland.

“We are a big part of communities here as a major manufacturer, an employer, an exporter and we are fortunate to provide many brands that families and pets have been relying on and enjoying for generations.”

Watson’s appointment followed the departure of current chief executive Stefano Agostini, who leaves the role after six years. Agostini will become the had of confectionery for Nestlé’s Zone Europe, also on 1 March 2023.

Commenting on his time as UK and Ireland head, he said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead this great business in the UK and Ireland. I am proud of the many things that we have achieved as a team, the way we have risen to challenges and moved our business forward.

“Our food industry is a valuable asset to the UK and Ireland and I have been proud to work alongside other manufacturers, retailers and farmers to help raise the voice of our sector and make it more resilient.”

Departure of Tesco plant-based head of innovation

This week also saw the departure of Tesco director of plant-based innovation Derek Sarno after six years at the helm.

Heralded as instrumental in bringing plant-based food to the UK, Sarno helped develop two pioneering plant-based brand, Wicked Kitchen in 2018 and the Tesco Plant- Chef brand in 2019.

He played a key role in bringing together Tesco’s in-house team with supplier partners Bakkavor and Samworth Brothers the launch the UK’s first plant-based ranges at scale.

Tesco’s development & innovation of plant-based food will now be led by product director, Breige Donaghy who joined the business last February. She will lead a renewed focus on health and ‘veg-led’ propositions which inspire and makes it easy for customers to incorporate more veg into their diets.

Sarno said: “I’m incredibly proud of all we’ve achieved as a team during my time at Tesco. Central to our success has been thse partnership between Tesco and our supplier partners – their commitment and innovation has really brought plant-based food to a mass audience - whether you’re a devotee of plant-based food, or trying it for the very first time, it’s great to see so many customers enjoying Wicked Kitchen and Plant Chef products.”

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