Tropicana and Quaker Oats boss David Johnston is leaving PepsiCo after 13 years to head up Groupe Aeroplan-Europe.

Johnston will take up the role of president and CEO in January, with responsibility for the group's European business, including the Nectar loyalty card programme. Based in London, he will also take charge of Groupe Aeroplan's subsidiary LMG Insight and Communication, which tracks consumer behaviour using Nectar purchase data.

The 41-year-old Irishman became general manager of Tropicana and Quaker in April 2008 and was credited with keeping Tropicana in growth as sales of juices and smoothies fell. Under his charge, Tropicana recorded a 1.2% growth to £260m as overall juices slumped 9% [Nielsen 52w/e 19 September 2009].

Johnston spearheaded a an NPD programme that included the premium Tropicana Gold juices and Quaker's biggest piece of NPD for years kids' porridge range Paw-Ridge, launched in September.

Richard Evans, president and CEO of PepsiCo UK and Ireland, said the group was currently seeking a replacement and would miss Johnston's experience, particularly in soft drinks.

"David's 13 years at PepsiCo have seen a great many achievements," said Evans. "He has driven strong performance across the portfolio and made a very substantial contribution to PepsiCo. David leaves an enduring legacy."

The MD of a rival soft drinks company expected Johnston's successor to come from within PepsiCo.

"Traditionally, PepsiCo promotes internal candidates to these positions," he said. "It's a tough role but likely to attract a lot of interest. Johnston did a good job, considering the circumstances."

Meanwhile, Rupert Duchesne, CEO of Groupe Aeroplan, described Johnston's appointment as "an important step" for the company. "With David's proven knowledge of the market, impressive international experience and well-honed leadership capabilities, we have added significant power to our talent base in Europe," he said.