Elaine Birchall

Northern Ireland premium brands owner SHS Group has named Elaine Birchall chief executive.

She will start in her new role on Monday (3 November) at the company’s Belfast headquarters.

Birchall takes over from Michael Howard, who announced his retirement as MD earlier this year after nearly 20 years with the company.

He had held the role since 1999 and was previously the company’s finance director.

SHS owns brands such as WKD, Shloer and Merrydown Cider and distributes other well-known brands including Jordans, Ryvita and Nivea. It is also a major own-label supplier of herbs & spices and wet condiments as well as milk puddings in the UK.

Birchall joins the company after more than two decades of international business experience.

Throughout her career, she has directed finance, supply chain and general management operations for organisations based in the US, South Pacific, Europe, the UK and Africa. Her CV includes stints in senior positions with several multinational organisations, including PZ Cussons and Colgate Palmolive.

Birchall will take responsibility for developing and growing SHS, which has an annual turnover of more than £400m across its four divisions - drinks; condiments & sauces; sales and marketing; and corporate services.

Joe Sloan, SHS’s ­co-founder and chairman, said Birchall was “an extremely important addition” to the SHS team. “She has extensive leadership qualities and the experience needed to help accelerate our long-term plans.”

Birchall said SHS had earned its position in the market because of its ability to develop brands to their full potential and forge strong relationships. “I look forward to building on that approach and working to secure future growth.”