Convenience food manufacturer Greencore has announced that chief financial officer Patrick Coveney will replace chief executive David Dilger when he retires next March.

Dilger has been chief executive for 12 years and was credited by chairman Ned Sullivan for transforming Greencore into "one of Europe's leading convenience foods producers, overcoming enormous challenges along the way". He joined Greencore in 1992 as chief operating officer. Prior to this he was chief executive of Irish food group Food Industries.

"Dilger has demonstrated vision, clarity of direction and unrelenting personal commitment to achieve our business objectives," said Sullivan.

As chief financial officer, Patrick Coveney has been responsible for developing the group's financial planning and management. He presided over the recent strengthening of the group's financial position, which led to this month's 32% increase in pre-tax profit to £53.1m.

Coveney also told The Grocer of Greencore's plans to gain a foothold in the US chilled food market and said it would be keen to strike a deal supplying Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighbourhood Market venture.

Prior to joining Greencore in 2005, Coveney was a partner at management consultancy McKinsey Ireland, where he gained knowledge and experience of European food manufacturing.

"This is an ideal time for me to step down, as Greencore has never been in better shape," said Dilger. "It's a privilege to be able to hand over the leadership of the group to Patrick."

Coveney will officially start the new role next March, and Dilger will retain his role as a member of the Court of Directors of the Bank of Ireland.

Greencore announced this week it had acquired the Ministry of Cake, which supplies frozen cakes and cheesecakes for Greencore's foodservice operation and retailer own label.

Greencore has also bought the bottled water facility at Blaen Twyni, near Swansea, which was formerly owned by Danone Waters UK. Both businesses will retain their existing staff.