Peter Blackburn, chairman and chief executive of Nestlé UK, is to retire next year after 35 years with the group. Blackburn, 59, joined what was then Mackintosh as an accountant in 1966 and worked his way up through the ranks, becoming Nestlé UK chief executive in April 1991. In 1996 he went to France for a stint as as president and director general of Nestlé France, before returning to his top job in the UK in 1997. He will officially retire in July 2001, but his successor Alistair Sykes will take hold of the reins in March. During the changeover period Blackburn will concentrate on his role as president of the Food and Drink Federation. His term as president ends at the end of 2001. Sykes, 47, is currently managing director of Nestlé UK's confectionery division Nestlé Rowntree. He will be succeeded as md by John Sunley, Nestlé group HR and technical director, and former general manager of the York factory. {{NEWS }}