Brian Stein is set to retire as chief executive officer of Samworth Brothers at the end of March. He will be succeeded by Samworth Brothers’ director Lindsey Pownall, who will take up the role on 1 April.

Stein, who has been CEO since 2002, admitted he had mixed feelings as his date for retirement drew closer. “If I am honest, 50% of me is looking forward to it and 50% of me is dreading it,” he told The Grocer. “So we shall have to wait and see.”

But he had warm words for Pownall and revealed the family business had been focused on recruiting internally.

“Lindsey has been with us for around 15 years and over the past three or four years we have been trying as hard as possible to ensure we were able to recruit internally,” he said. “If an internal appointment is possible that is the best move. It offers so many advantages.”

Stein said Pownall had spent the past three years competing with colleagues for the CEO role. A number of candidates were given a scaled-down version of the job in order to see who was most suited.

“Lindsey, along with other colleagues, was given four businesses to run in 2009 to give them a feel for doing a little bit of my job, with the idea of grooming one of them to eventually take over from myself,” Stein explained. “The past three years has seen a process of elimination to decide who that would be, and it was Lindsey. She is gradually picking up bits and pieces of my job as we speak and picks up the reins on 1 April.”

Stein began his career as a management trainee at sausagemaker Bowyers in 1970. Northern Foods bought the company in 1985 and Stein was promoted to managing director of the Pork Farms business in 1986. He joined Samworth in 1995.