United Biscuits has promoted Paul Graham to sales director following the departure of Dave Pickup to Innocent Drinks.

Graham was previously grocery trading director for the McVitie’s and Hula Hoops manufacturer, joining UB from Masterfoods (now Mars UK) in 1997.

In his new position he will retain direct responsibility for the grocery channel, but his main role will be to oversee the accounts of the big four retailers and Waitrose, as well as looking after UB’s own-label sales and category development.

There were still plenty of opportunities to develop the company’s portfolio, said Graham. The Phileas Fogg snacking range, relaunched last December, was top of the list, he said. “The economic environment is a challenge for 2009, but the snacking category is holding up well. Phileas Fogg is still the big news and early sales indications are very positive. A key priority will be to establish the brand in the sharing bag segment.”

The focus for the rest of 2009 would be on core brands such as McVitie’s, which recorded recession-defying growth of 10.8% to £106.6m last year [Nielsen], and Hula Hoops, he said.

Benoit Testard, managing director at UB said Graham’s “ability, dedication and passion” were valuable assets for the role, as was the “extensive knowledge and understanding of the UB setup” he had gained in the past 12 years.

Graham replaces Pickup, who has exited the role to become commercial director at Innocent Drinks. He joined UB last July and is credited with developing the company’s health and sustainability agenda.

Pickup has taken over from Giles Brook, who has left Innocent on amicable terms to set up his own business, which, he said, would “unlock growth capabilities” for small companies.

Brook had been at Innocent for four years and said it was the right time to move. “I leave with nothing but admiration and respect for the founders and the company in general,” he said. “I’m also leaving at a time when our business performance is getting stronger and stronger.