Des Naughton, the man in charge of British American tobacco’s non-tobacco products as MD of Nicoventures, is to leave at the end of February after nearly 20 years with the global tobacco giant.

Naughton was also on the group management board for four years, which included the roles of group operations director and regional director, Eastern Europe.

BAT chief executive Nicandro Durante said Naughton had built a strong foundation for the group to compete in next-generation products.

Kingsley Wheaton, group corporate and regulatory affairs director, will take over as managing director of Next Generation Products, which includes Nicoventures.

The newly created role will include leadership of “tobacco heating products”, which will be managed alongside the emerging nicotine businesses.

He has been with BAT for 18 years and a member of the management board since 2012.

BAT established Nicoventures in April 2011 as a standalone ­company managed separately from the group’s tobacco business to focus exclusively on the development and commercialisation of innovative regulatory approved ­nicotine products.

Jerome Abelman, assistant general counsel, corporate and commercial, will take on Wheaton’s former role, as well as responsibility for the group’s legal and corporate and regulatory affairs function after Neil Withington, group legal director and general counsel, retires at the end of next April.