Kankiwala had transformed the brand, said Hovis

Hovis CEO Nish Kankiwala is to step down, The Grocer can reveal.

Kankiwala, who joined Hovis as chairman in 2014 before becoming CEO, will leave the business at the end of September.

Non-executive director Robert Higginson – a previous MD of Warburtons – will take over as interim CEO.

Kankiwala left “a legacy of transforming the brand, refocusing on the bakery business and the sale to Endless LLP in 2020”, said Hovis.

“I have had the most incredible eight plus years at Hovis,” said Kankiwala. “Throughout my tenure, I have been humbled by the support, kindness, resilience and creativity of my team and colleagues, and I would like to thank them all for their contribution over the last eight years.

“Together, we have galvanised Hovis, leveraging its great heritage and fantastic quality to create one of the fastest-growing large-scale bread brands over the last few years. Hovis is now poised for its next stage of growth and it is time for me to step down and pursue a broader set of plural commercial activities.”

Prior to Hovis, Kankiwala worked at Unilever across a number of commercial and operational roles, and was president of PepsiCo’s soft drinks business in Europe and Africa. He also worked in the private equity sector and led Burger King International as president.

Endless LLP partner Aidan Robson added: “I would like to thank Nish for his support and leadership since we acquired Hovis in 2020, especially in such challenging economic times. I would also like to thank Nish for the tremendous work he has done over the last eight years.

“We are delighted that Robert Higginson has agreed to take over as interim CEO and he will enable a smooth transition to the next stage of Hovis’s exciting growth story”.

Late last year Hovis made a string of senior appointments, hiring former Carlsberg VP for on-trade sales Alistair Gaunt as commercial director and former 2 Sisters operations director Chris Bradley as supply chain director. 

Kankiwala is the latest in a series of high-level food & drink executives to announce plans to step down over recent weeks, including Ocado Retail CEO Melanie Smith, Wrap CEO Marcus Gover, and Unilever UK&I GM Sebastian Munden