John West has appointed as its new managing director the man said to have helped turn around the canned fruit sector.

Stephen Thorpe, previously MD of Mission Foods, replaces Ian Meadows, who has been transferred to work on group initiatives for John West parent company MW Brands.

Before his time at Mission Foods, Thorpe was MD of Del Monte Foods International. While there he helped to turn around the canned fruit sector, said Yoplait marketing director Gerry Roads, who worked closely with Thorpe at Del Monte.

"Canned fruit was a mature and declining sector that he helped to reinvigorate," said Roads. "For example, he oversaw the move into plastic pots."

He described Thorpe as "a very inciteful marketeer and a good strategist".

Thorpe is expected to prove key in developing new packaging formats and new products for John West.

The brand has shown a willingness to innovate recently, having just launched a new canned tuna steak that contains five times more omega-3 than a standard can. The company has also started using pouches in addition to cans.