United Biscuits boss Martin Glenn is stepping down next month to become CEO of the English Football Association.
Football fan Glenn, who joined United Biscuits in 2013, is known as the man who made Gary Lineker the face of Walkers when he was marketing manager for the crisp brand in the 1990s.
The move comes three months after United Biscuits was sold to Turkish food business Yildiz Holding by UB’s private equity owners Blackstone and PAI Partners.
Glenn has transformed the fortunes of UB in his 18 months with the business, bringing all sweet lines under the McVitie’s masterbrand, and savoury lines under Jacob’s, while backing both with heavyweight marketing investment. He also pulled out of an Aldi supply contract – saying it was effectively cannibalising McVitie’s sales - and scrapped a previously introduced healthier recipe for Digestives.
“This has been a difficult decision, as I have had a hugely enjoyable – if challenging time – at UB,” Glenn said today. “I am very sad to be leaving the business, but the opportunity with the FA is just too good to pass up, as I am sure many people understand.”
“My mission is to make English football win tournaments. Football is a passion of mine, and it’s a job that’s worth doing well.”
Despite being on the board of Leicester City, and having an FA coaching qualification, Glenn conceded that “from a personal development point of view it’s big”, but said he was confident of his qualifications for the role.
“It’s not an obvious move. But the FA need a change agent, they’re looking for someone who can build a world-class organisation, benchmarked against the finest that football has to offer.” He added: “It will be strange leaving the food industry after 30 years, but I hope to keep my hand in as a non-executive somewhere.”
Glenn will stay on as advisor to the UB board of directors, and is to be succeeded from 3 April by Jeff van der Eems, currently CEO of UB’s international business. The company said van der Eems had expanded UB into international markets by extending its portfolio from nothing to four factories. He has been with UB for more than a decade and has held senior roles including chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
“I am thrilled to be taking over as CEO of UB from Martin,” said van der Eems. “The business is in a strong position to continue to grow both at home and abroad, especially with the support now provided by Yıldız Holding. I would like to thank Martin for all his efforts during his time at UB. We will continue to build on UB’s strong foundations and spearhead the business for long-term sustainable growth.”