Former Wrigley MD Gharry Eccles is to take over the reins at Müller UK when current CEO Stewart Gilliland steps down at the end of the year.

Gilliland is to retire from full-time employment in December and Eccles will take up his post on 1 January.

There will then be a handover period of a few weeks, during which Gilliland will work alongside Eccles to help ease him into the role.

Eccles is understood to have been in line for the role for some time, having left Wrigley at the end of August. He spent eight years with the chewing gum company and has been credited with driving its corporate social responsibility credentials.

In August, Eccles had said it was time to move on as the business was moving into a new phase following the global merger of Mars and Wrigley.

He was replaced by Ian Burton, who was previously managing director of Mars Africa.

Gilliland has almost 25 years experience in the food and drink industry and will continue to work in non-executive roles within the sector.

He currently holds non-executive positions at Dairy UK and the beer dispense monitoring equipment business Brulines.

He joined Müller in 2006 after spending 21 years in the drinks trade with what was Whitbread and latterly Interbrew and InBev, and plans to carry on working for the yoghurt company in a global advisory role.

Gilliland said he had achieved everything he had set out to do at Müller and was pleased to be handing over the company in good shape. According to the latest figures from Nielsen the company's sales are up 4% for the year to 3 October compared with just 2% for the yoghurt category overall. "The business is in a good position and performing well on all key metrics," he said.

Gilliland, 52, said he had always planned to stay in the role for about four years. He was retiring for personal reasons, he said, as he wanted to spend more time with his family, having spent the past decade travelling for work.