Incoming Warburtons managing director Mary-Ann Kilby

Source: Warburtons

Samworth executive Mary-Ann Kilby will join Warburtons from September

Warburtons has appointed Mary-Ann Kilby as its new managing director.

The Samworth Brothers senior commercial director will join Britain’s biggest bakery brand from September, after a tumultuous period in which chairman Jonathan Warburton took back control of day-to-day operations, following the departure of previous MD Neil Campbell last August.

Kilby has been group executive board director at Samworth Brothers since 2018, having risen up the ranks in MD and senior commercial leadership roles at two of its subsidiaries: Melton Foods and Saladworks.

As well as her “vast experience” and “outstanding record” in business, Warburton said Kilby was ideally positioned, having built a good understanding of its operations since her appointment as a non-executive director at the start of 2022.

“I have known Mary-Ann for many years and am delighted to welcome her into her new role at Warburtons. The last few years have been challenging for all in the industry, but as we look ahead, we remain focused on continuing to invest in innovation, quality and our people. I am certain, that with her vast experience, common values and leadership qualities Mary-Ann will continue to drive the long-term growth of our business.”

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He added that Kilby would be a particular asset in mentoring and integrating the sixth generation of the Warburtons family. Still owned and managed by Warburton together with his cousins Ross and Brett, Warburton told The Grocer last year that they “desperately” wanted it to “remain a private family business”, with Brett’s daughter Megan, Ross’s son Jimmy and Jonathan’s twin boys, Harry and Jack, all recently joining the firm. 

“It’s about transitioing into a new era,” he added. “It’s not a complete reassessment play. The big challenge is, on the back of the last three years as our category and the market changes, we need to make sure are the creators of the mood music not the receivers. We want to carry on leading and reinforcing our well-invested market position, and look to develop and expand the brand.”  

Kilby said she was proud to be joining such an ambitious family business: “Warburtons is a great British brand which has a real focus on investing in long term growth, and which places great importance not only on making the highest quality products but on its partnership approach in working with its customers. The family values and culture of the business make Warburtons unique and special. I am very much looking forward to getting to know the people in the 28 sites across the country.”

Warburtons makes over 70 products at its 11 bakeries, and delivers fresh to over 18,500 stores each day from its 16 depots. Retail sales increased to over £750m according to the latest survey of Britain’s Biggest Brands, published by The Grocer this week.