Morrisons executive chef Neil Nugent is keen to remain in the grocery industry after parting ways with the supermarket last month.
The Grocer revealed this week that Nugent had left the business by “mutual consent” having spent three and a half years at the retailer.
“My life is all about food, so whether it is a small restaurant or a major retailer I’m interested,” Nugent told The Grocer.
Morrisons declined to comment, but it is believed the timing of Nugent’s departure is related to the completion of and changes in reporting structure for a number of major projects he had responsibility for.
These included the overhaul of 11,000 own-label products, including the development of the M Kitchen, M Signature and M Savers ranges, the creation of a state-of-the-art development kitchen at Morrisons’ Gain Lane head office in Bradford, and the establishment of Morrisons’ NPD team.
In May, Morrisons revealed it was looking to re-examine its own-label offer again this year as part of its wider strategy to fight back against the discounters and address falling sales.
This process is being led by group trading director Casper Meijer.
Nugent also suggested that a scaling back of NPD had been a factor in his departure. “I think there has been a more cautious approach to innovation across the major supermarkets recently,” he said. “That can be frustrating.”
In July, Morrisons revealed a scaled-back Christmas offer, with just 700 festive lines compared with 900 last year.
Nugent said the highlight of his time with Morrisons was creating the M Kitchen development facility and the in-store M Kitchen brand.
Before joining Morrisons in May 2011, he spent three years as executive chef of innovation at Waitrose, and 11 years at Asda.