Asda chief executive Andy Clarke will step into Mars Chocolate UK and global retail president Fiona Dawson’s shoes as president of the IGD from the new year.

Clarke, who has been vice-president of the food and grocery research and training charity for two years, will serve the same period as president after he assumes the mantle from Dawson.

Dawson becomes global president of Mars Food in January.

Clarke said that in his 30 years in the industry he had never known a period as challenging and exciting.

“The pace of change is phenomenal and the UK is leading the way in many areas.”

He said the IGD made “a real difference” to the sector and to the economy – “be it through our output, job creation or skills – and I’m hugely proud to have the opportunity to lead it,” he said.

Clarke’s first job in the industry was aged 17 when he joined Fine Fare in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

He joined Asda in 1992 as general store manager of the Edinburgh store and rose through the ranks before taking senior roles at Matalan and Iceland between 2000 and 2005.

He  returned to Asda as retail director and became chief operating officer in 2007 and president and chief executive in 2010.

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD chief executive, said Clarke bought a wealth of experience “from shop floor to top floor.”

He had already demonstrated his passion and support for the IGD as vice-president, not least for its work on Feeding Britain’s Future and Working on Waste.

“Andy now takes the reins as president in what is set to be a very exciting year for IGD and our industry, as we focus on our core pillars of people development and working towards a secure and sustainable future, ultimately delivering the needs of the public,” Denney-Finch said.