James Hill

Young’s Seafood International, formerly Findus Group, has announced that James Hill will step down as chief executive at the end of the year “to pursue alternative opportunities outside the group”.

His departure follows Nomad Foods’ £500m takeover of the European arm of Findus last month, which excludes Young’s Seafood in the UK.

Hill, who will retain a non-executive role as an adviser to the Young’s International board, was one of the architects of the deal for Nomad to combine Findus’s operations with Birds Eye Iglo’s operations across Europe.

He was appointed chief executive of Findus Group in April 2013. His 32-year career has included chief executive of Birds Eye Walls for four years and Findus Italy for a year prior to its sale to Birds Eye in 2010. 

“Having driven significant growth, and following the sale of the international Findus business, now is the right time to move on,” he said.

Bill Showalter, chief financial officer of Young’s International, will step up to chief executive when Hill leaves. Showalter will also continue his existing duties, including financial control and corporate governance over the group’s remaining operations.

Showalter, who has held the chief financial officer’s role for nearly three years, worked for HJ Heinz from 1988 where he rose to chief financial officer in 2001. He worked at Starwood Hotels & Resorts for seven years, as senior vice-president finance - EAME before joining Findus Group. 

“Young’s Seafood is a great company, with a strong brand, a talented team, supportive shareholders and a bright future ahead of it,” Showalter said.

Pete Ward, meanwhile, will continue in his role of chief executive of Young’s Seafood, the UK operating company. Ward announced two new appointments - Tim Muldoon, as managing director of Pinneys, its dedicated Marks & Spencer site, and Phil Nickells, as managing director of Young’s dedicated Waitrose site. Both new roles take effect early next year.

Peter Hawkins, managing director of Pinneys of Scotland, has decided to leave Young’s to take on a new role closer to home with Park Cakes.

Ward said Hawkins had successfully led the company’s M&S business since 2013, during which time he had driven “significant sales growth, enhanced operational efficiency and … overseen the development of a strong multifunctional relationship with M&S”.