Coca-Cola Enterprises vice president of sales and customer development Ian Deste is leaving his role following 20 years with the soft drinks giant, The Grocer can reveal.

Deste has been a key member of CCE's top team during a successful period; in 2009, Coca-Cola became the first brand to hit £1bn in annual UK grocery sales [Nielsen 52 w/e 26 December 2009], by which time the Diet variant alone had become almost twice as big as arch rival Pepsi. The core red Coke variety continued to drive growth during that period, with sales up 5.3% despite continuing pressure from the health lobby over high-sugar drinks.

More recently, sales have continued to rise, up to £1.07bn in The Grocer's last annual Top Products Survey [Nielsen 52w/e 2 October 2010], outstripping sales of Pepsi by almost four to one, while the performance of Coca-Cola brands Fanta, Dr Pepper and Sprite have also been strong.

Deste has held a number of roles at CCE including head of corporate affairs and marketing director. He would not be drawn on his next move, but said he hopes to stay within the fmcg sector.

"I have had a wonderful career at CCE, with spells in marketing, the opportunity to head up our public affairs and communications department and, most recently, to lead our customer-facing teams, illustrating the breadth of opportunity CCE can afford," he said. "But nothing is forever. I'm really excited at the prospect of being able to transfer the experience gained at CCE to another opportunity elsewhere.

"I very much hope my next move will allow me to stay within the fmcg sector, which I have always found stimulating and where I have made many friends and acquaintances."

In a statement, Coca-Cola Enterprises said: "Ian will be leaving the company at the end of March. After more than 20 years, during which he played an important role in driving success at CCE, Ian has decided to pursue other interests.

"We will announce his successor in due course."