Mark Cuddigan Ella web

Mark Cuddigan

Long-serving Ella’s Kitchen CEO Mark Cuddigan is stepping down from the babyfood supplier just weeks after owner Hain Celestial unveiled a global restructuring programme, The Grocer can reveal.

Cuddigan – who has been with the brand for 12 years and spent 10 years in charge – will be replaced by COO Will Howard, who takes up the role of managing director with immediate effect.

Howard has been with Ella’s for 10 years, joining as commercial director and taking up the COO position in 2020. He has also spent time with Innocent, Red Bull and PepsiCo across his fmcg career.

A spokeswoman for Hain Celestial said Cuddigan had made “a significant contribution” to the business, and helped it become “the UK’s most loved kids food brand” and position it as “a force for good”.

Cuddigan, who moved from marketing director to joint MD in 2013, taking sole charge in 2014, has overseen a period of significant growth for Ella’s, with revenues more than doubling during his tenure.

He has been a driving force behind the B Corp movement for the UK fmcg industry, with Ella’s only the second fmcg company to gain the accreditation back in 2016.

Cuddigan also led numerous campaigns to improve childhood nutrition and most recently announced a new long-term partnership with the RSPB.

Will Howard Ella's

Ella’s Kitchen’s new MD Will Howard

He said it wasn’t an easy decision to leave but it was “the right time for me, my family and for Ella’s” and he added he was “excited” to pursue new opportunities.

“I leave Ella’s incredibly proud of everything we have achieved together over the past 12 years,” he said.

“From growing to become the UK’s leading babyfood brand, to proving that business can be a force for good through campaigns to improve the lives of future generations, including ‘Veg for Victory’, ‘Eat Play Love’ and ‘Five for the Under-fives’, none of our successes would have been possible without the amazing team who worked alongside me.”

He added: “Whilst departures are always sad, I am so excited to be leaving Ella’s in the great hands of Will Howard, who has been an outstanding COO and a brilliant friend for almost 10 years. I am looking forward to seeing where he takes this very special brand. Ella’s will forever have a special place in my heart.”

The move comes after Hain launched its ‘Hain Reimagined’ turnaround strategy at an investor day in New York last month, with the group aiming to make annual cost savings of $130m-$150m (£104.1m-£120.1m) by the 2027 financial year.

The Hain spokeswoman said the group looked forward to working with Howard as he “seeks to take Ella’s from strength to strength, with the introduction of new product ranges, expansion into new categories and as a force for good for people and the planet”.

Howard said: “I would like to thank Mark for his leadership over the past decade at Ella’s.

“I look forward to building upon this success by continuing to grow Ella’s, nurturing our relationships with our amazing partners and suppliers, expanding our reach into new categories, and – of course – continuing to do everything we can to achieve our purpose of every little one growing up happy, healthy and never hungry.”