Neil Turton

Turton spent more than 23 years with Nisa, seven of which as CEO, before he left in March 2015

Grocery industry veteran Neil Turton is set to become the new managing director of Sugro.

Former Nisa CEO Turton will join the confectionery and snacks buying and marketing group on Monday (3 September).

He will replace Philip Jenkins, who resigned after 17 years in the role on 29 December to set up consultancy Desh.

Turton spent more than 23 years with Nisa, seven of which as CEO, before he left in March 2015.

After Nisa he had short stints with Him International and My Local before taking up his most recent position as COO with Co-operatives UK in February 2017.

Read more: Ken Towle on taking Nisa into a new era

However, since July he moved into a consultancy role with the trade body, which works to promote, develop and unite member-owned businesses.

“I went part-time in July 2018 to give me space to look for other things,” said Turton. “I still have a great relationship with Co-ops UK and am still working with them as a non-exec on some non-conflicting things, for example my major project to development student housing co-ops in the UK.”

“Co-ops UK exists to grow the co-op economy and to lead on mutual and co-op governance and I really enjoyed it but missed the commercial cut and thrust.”

Trade sources have speculated that if the merger of Landmark Wholesale and Today’s Group goes through next month, the new entity, Unitas, would be keen to sweep up Sugro and other smaller wholesale groups.

“Unitas will inevitably be talked about but it’s not happened yet,” said Turton. “I think a large part of the reason for Sugro hiring a new MD is to show they are committed to making a success of Sugro as an independent group,” he added.

“Clearly there’s lots of consolidation and that throws up challenges but that’s why Sugro’s board have asked me to lead this, so they are an independent, successful and growing group.”

Sugro chairman Tony Cox said Turton had put forward a strategic plan for the development of the group that encapsulated the board’s aim to promote the group and drive growth “both in membership and in category”.

Meanwhile this week Yulia Goodwin, who was buying controller of tuna and meat at Princes Foods, has rejoined Sugro as head of trading. She was senior buying manager at Sugro for more than five years before joining Princes in May 2017.

Cox added that Goodwin was looking forward to using the skills she gained with Princes, working constructively with suppliers to promote their products and “ensuring they obtain a strong return on their investment into Sugro”.