Zetar has recruited Jamie L’Estrange from Hallmark as sales director of the group’s natural snacks division.

L’Estrange was previously general manager of the Tesco and Morrisons teams at Hallmark. He has worked with all the major mults in roles at Park Cakes, Northern Foods, Greencore and General Mills.

“He has extensive industry and commercial experience that will be invaluable in helping develop the group’s commercial team,” said Zetar’s natural snack division MD Phil Whitfield, who L’Estrange will report to.

Zetar made the appointment after sales at its snacks business fell 13% to £20.6m in the six months to 31 October 2011. The confectionery and snacks group, which reported a 2.4% increase in total sales over the same period, suffered the drop in snack sales after withdrawing from £4m of unprofitable nut business early in 2011.

L’Estrange has been tasked with re-growing the snacks business, which has shifted its focus towards higher-margin branded ranges and more premium own-label products over the past year. In 2011, the portfolio expanded to include new ranges of Branston, Sharwoods and Ambrosia snacks as well as new healthier products under Zetar’s own Humdinger brand.

Zetar will also be launching a range of Guinness snacks in the coming months, having just signed a licensing deal with the Diageo-owned brand.

“Jamie joins the business at an exciting time, as we focus on developing our range of Fruit Factory snacks and our portfolio of snacking licences,” said Whitfield.

L’Estrange will be supported by two new account managers. Zetar said that by reinforcing the commercial team the division would be able to increase the pace of NPD.