patrick cairns

Patrick Cairns (right) with founder Charlie Bigham

Charlie Bigham’s has appointed Wessanen UK CEO Patrick Cairns as its new chief executive.

Cairns replaces Tom Allchurch, who left in December to move to New York with his family. He is a former Unilever executive, who spent 20 years at the fmcg giant. Having left Unilever in 2006, he went on to become CEO at premium babyfood maker Plum Baby, leading its sale to Darwin Private Equity in 2010.

Cairns is credited with a successful turnaround of natural and organic business Wessanen. This included the relaunch of Kallo rice cakes and Whole Earth, the sale of specialist wholesaler Tree of Life, and the acquisitions of Clipper Teas and gluten-free brand Mrs Crimble’s.

“We are delighted to be welcoming Patrick aboard. He has a hugely impressive track record of leading and developing innovative branded businesses, and is just what we need to help us take Bigham’s to the next level,” said founder Charlie Bigham.

Cairns, who will take up the role next month, said: “I am very excited to be joining such an exciting business with so much evident potential.”

The ready meal maker has doubled its business in the past two years. In its latest accounts Charlie Bigham’s reported a 35% growth in retail sales to £57m for the year to 31 August 2016.

The company has also announced a new manufacturing site being developed at Dulcote Quarry near Shepton Mallet in Somerset.

Allchurch said: “It’s been an amazing seven years and the whole team should be very proud of what we have achieved together. It’s time for a new adventure for me - hopefully New York will be as exciting and fulfilling as Bigham’s has been.”