New chief executives at Hilton and Barry Callebaut

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Steve Murrells (left) has been appointed chief executive of Hilton Food Group, while Peter Feld (right) is the new head of Barry Callebaut
Steve Murrells (left) has been appointed chief executive of Hilton Food Group, while Peter Feld (right) is the new head of Barry Callebaut

Related tags Confectionery Meat & Seafood appointments

Meat processor Hilton Food Group and chocolate maker Barry Callebaut have both announced the appointments of new chief executives this morning.

Hilton revealed that Steve Murrells, former chief executive of retailer the Co-op, will assume the role of chief executive from 3 July 2023 and will join the board at the same time.

Murrells’ connection with Hilton goes back 30 years, when he was one of the meat firm’s first customers and commercial partners at Tesco.

He has since gone on to play a number of pivotal roles within the food and drink industry, having served as chief executive of Tulip from 2009 to 2012 before moving on to become head of Co-op Food.

During his time as chief executive for the Co-op Group, Murrells led the business through the COVID-19 pandemic and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2022 for his services to the food supply chain.

30 year history

Murrells’ appointment follows the announcement that current Hilton chief executive Philip Heffer is to stand down from the board and running the company after almost 30 years with meat firm. He will support Murrells’ transition to chief executive and will remain with the business as Co-Founder and Advisor to the Hilton Foods Board.

Commenting on his appointment, Murrells said: “Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I was the Meat Category Director at Tesco when Hilton was pioneering centrally packed meat, and the way that Philip and the team have grown the business since then has been incredible, with fifteen years of sensational growth.

I've loved getting to know the business again recently, and what is exciting is that there is so much still to achieve. While Philip is stepping down, he's not stepping out of the business, and we will really benefit from his support with customer relationships and business development in his new role.

“I'm looking forward to working with Robert, Philip and the wider team as we take Hilton Foods to the next level and become the international food and supply chain partner of choice."

Outgoing chief executive Philip Heffer reflected that now was the best time to step away from the role, after the work done to expand Hilton’s commercial model over the past five years.

“Hilton Foods today is a major international business, with sales and operations across Europe, Asia and the Pacific, offering a broad range of quality products, from meat and seafood to vegan and vegetarian products,”​ he continued.

“Steve was one of our first customers in the 1990s and he has an excellent track record within the food industry. Although I am stepping down from the Board, I'm proud to remain a significant shareholder and I look forward to supporting the continued growth of the business in my new role."

Peter Feld to head Barry Callebaut

Today (April 5) also saw chocolate maker Barry Callebaut announce the appointment of Peter Feld as its new chief executive, succeeding Peter Boone With immediate effect. Boone cited “personal reasons” for why he was leaving the business.

Previously chief executive of Jacobs Holding, Feld has held a number of leadership roles across a wide range of businesses, including market research company GfK and premium cookware and automatic coffee machine maker WMF Group.

Barry Callebaut chairman Patrick De Maeseneire said: “We are delighted that Peter Feld, a seasoned leader with over 30 years’ experience at top global consumer goods and services companies, is joining Barry Callebaut.

“His track record with international brands is exceptional. In addition, he has many years of experience in the food industry. This unique combination makes him the ideal person to further develop Barry Callebaut successfully with a focus on sustainable growth.”

Feld also boasts decades of experience within the fast moving consumer goods industry with the likes of Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Beiersdorf. He was also vice-president of the German Brands Association, helping to drive sustainable development for the industry.

He added: “It is a great honour to assume responsibility as CEO of Barry Callebaut. Chocolate is a life-long passion, even more so as I started my career in the food industry. I am very much looking forward to bringing my leadership experience to Barry Callebaut and am excited about writing the next chapter of our success story together with the entire team.”

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