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Listed wholesaler Kitwave Group has announced its CEO Paul Young will retire at the company’s AGM in March 2024.

Ben Maxted, the group’s chief operating officer, will become CEO following Young’s retirement.

A handover period between the two will commence immediately to ensure a “seamless transition” of CEO responsibilities prior to the next AGM.

Steve Smith, Chairman of Kitwave, commented: “Paul’s retirement next year will mark the end of a remarkable career with Kitwave. Having founded the Company in 1987 as a single-site confectionery business Paul has been instrumental in its growth and development into the delivered wholesale business that it is today. On behalf of everyone at Kitwave, we thank Paul for his vision and enduring contribution to the Group and we wish him well in his retirement.”

Paul Young commented: As Chief Operating Officer, Ben has demonstrated excellent commercial and operational expertise and these skills will continue to be invaluable in his new role and in delivering the next phase of our growth strategy.

“The Board continues to remain committed to delivering value to our shareholders. I believe that Kitwave will continue to go from strength to strength and post my departure, I look forward to being a long-term shareholder in the Company.”

Meanwhile, the group announced it expects to meet current market expectations for its financial year “positive momentum” has continued since upgrading expectations in July.

Issuing a pre-close trading statement for the year to 31 October, the group said it expects “full-year financial results to be in line with current market expectations” following a “significant” upgrade to forecasts in July.

It said that, while acknowledging the prevailing macroeconomic landscape and associated inflationary challenges, Kitwave said it remains confident in its ability to utilise its extensive experience and expertise to mitigate these risks effectively.

It said the integration of West Country Food Holdings has been “successful” and the business is performing in line with management expectations.

The construction of a new 80,000 sq. ft. distribution centre to fully integrate the group’s South West operations has commenced with completion planned for Autumn 2024.

The group continues to look for opportunities to grow both organically and through strategic acquisitions.

Meanwhle its web-based trading platform, launched in 2022, has demonstrated “excellent results in terms of brand partner and customer engagement” with use of the platform increasing each month and resulting in online order capture standing at 47% for the quarter to September 2023.

CEO Paul Young commented: “I am delighted to report that Kitwave continued to perform strongly both financially and operationally in the financial year ended 31 October 2023. Given that trading in the wholesale sector is typically stronger in H2 of our financial year, we capitalised on the positive momentum from H1 2023 and anticipate being in line with current market expectations for the full year.

“We are particularly pleased with the excellent performance of West Country Food Holdings since its integration into the Group earlier this year enabling Kitwave to now offer high-quality fresh produce across the South West.

“The board continues to remain committed to delivering value to our shareholders, and I look forward to presenting record financial results to shareholders for the year ended 31 October 2023.”

Kitwave shares edged up 0.8% on the news to 267p.

Morning update

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is flat at 7,416.6pts.

Early risers include Ocado, up 5.3% to 571p, PZ Cussons, up 2.1% to 136p and Hilton Food Group, up 1.8% to 666.7p.

Fallers include Virgin Wines, down 4.3% to 33.5p, Glanbia, down 3.5% to €14.82 and Cranswick, down 1.6% to 3,594p.

The week in the City

Another busy week looks in store, highlighted by trading updates from ABF and Marks & Spencer.

Tomorrow brings the BRC-KPMG monthly retail sales figures for October, while Kantar will issue its grocery market share figures for the month.

In company news Associated British Foods will issue its full year results on Tuesday.

Wednesday brings interims from Marks & Spencer, while Thursday sees half year results from B&M European Value Retail, full year results from WH Smith and interims from Tate & Lyle.

Internationally Hain Celestial updates the market tomorrow, Ahold Delhaize on Wednesday and Henkel, Delivery Hero and Oatly on Thursday.