Heinz UK frozen business MD John Garnett has left to "pursue other interests" after his decision to sell off the frozen desserts business was reversed, The Grocer has learnt.
Whether the u-turn and Garnett's departure were connected is unknown, but a source said the frozen desserts arm was no longer for sale and would remain part of Heinz UK.
Garnett had been in the MD role since May 2006 and after a review, put the own-label frozen desserts business up for sale last July to focus on core brands such as WeightWatchers and Aunt Bessie's.
Prior to his appointment as MD for frozen, Garnett was MD of HP Foods and has held marketing and commercial positions at Danone Group and Procter & Gamble.
In the interim, Garnett will be replaced by vice president, sales for Heinz UK & Ireland John Hans. He joined Heinz UK in April 2006 after 10 years at the US business, where he was vice president of strategic customer teams. Hans has also worked for Procter & Gamble and IBM in the US.
Hans will retain his role as VP sales, reporting to Heinz president UK & Ireland Dave Woodward. As interim MD he will be driving sales of WeightWatchers products and developing Aunt Bessie's frozen mashed potatoes, which hit the headlines this week after TV chef Delia Smith included the product in her book, How To Cheat At Cooking.
"John's track record in leadership and positive customer development makes him the ideal candidate to take on this role in the interim," said Dave Woodward, Heinz president UK & Ireland. "This is an exciting time for the Heinz frozen business as we invest in our leading brands and deliver NPD. We wish John Garnett well."
Paul Lees, director of Heinz's Tesco business, will take on day-to-day retail sales duties from Hans.