Wayne Hudson

Wayne Hudson is keen to take on further board and advisory roles

Wayne Hudson, former Nomad Foods and Birds Eye boss, has taken a temporary role at Valeo Foods to lead the group’s UK snacks business, responsible for the likes of Kettle, Manomasa and Fox’s.

The interim MD role reports directly to group CEO Seamus Kearney.

The UK snack foods business includes crisp and popcorn brands Kettle, Manomasa and Metcalfe’s, and confectionery brands Fox’s Glacier, Fruit Salad and Henry Goode’s.

Hudson announced he was taking some time out of the food and drink industry in May last year, stepping down from his role as UK MD at frozen food specialist Nomad at the end of 2022.

He highlighted that he remained open to non-executive or advisory roles and is understood to be keen to expand on this ambition.

A Valeo spokesman said Hudson brought “a wealth of experience and a strong skillset” to the Ireland-headquartered ambient foods giant thanks to “an extensive career across the food industry”.

Hudson added: “Over the next few months, I am looking forward to working closely with the executive team at Valeo Snacks on the next phase of its development under Bain Capital ownership.”

Current snack foods MD Ashley Hicks, who joined Valeo as part of the 2019 acquisition of Kettle, where he was managing director, has moved to a more wider operational role within Valeo.

The Valeo spokesman added Hicks ”remains with Valeo Foods Group and continues to lead the integration of a number of brands and businesses recently acquired by the UK snack foods division, providing leadership oversight for New World Foods, Freshers and Yellow Chips, whilst reporting into Seamus Kearney”.

Hudson has spent 40 years working in the food and drink industry, joining Nomad in 2016 as boss of Birds Eye to spearhead a turnaround of the household name.

Hudson also headed up the 2018 takeovers of Goodfella’s and Aunt Bessie’s as Nomad continued its acquisition growth strategy.

Nomad expanded his responsibilities to include the rest of the group’s international business in 2021.

Prior to his time with Nomad Foods, Hudson was MD of the frozen division at Young’s Seafood. During his extensive career in fmcg, he also spent a 14-year spell at Kerry Foods, as well as senior leadership roles at Spillers Petfood and United Biscuits.

Valeo was acquired by global PE firm Bain Capital for a reported €1.7bn in May 2021.

Bain said at the time that it intended to continue to grow Valeo with further acquisitions.

Since the takeover, it has struck two deals: UK meat snacks group New World Foods Europe in August 2021 and Canada-based maple syrup producer Les Industries Bernard & Fils in May 2022.

Last year, it brought in Avanti Patel as head of M&A in a signal it intended to ramp up deal activity.

Established in 2010 when it acquired Irish ambient food businesses Batchelors and Origin Foods, Valeo today owns brands such as Jacob’s, Rowse, Odlums, Barratt, Balconi and Kettle.