Nigel Dunlop has become MD of poultry and food processing specialist Moy Park.
Dunlop, who joined from tobacco company the Gallaher Group, has replaced Trefor Campbell, who has been at the helm of the company since 1983 and has now become non-executive chairman.
Dunlop had sat on Gallaher's main board as executive director since 2002 after joining the company as a management trainee in 1980. He held a variety of positions in the business and was responsible for initiatives aimed at improving performance.
Dunlop was also credited with playing a key role in turning the tobacco company from a predominantly UK-focused business into a global force ranked 47 in the FTSE 100 before being acquired by Japan Tobacco last year. He is also a non-executive director of bakers Warburtons.
Campbell said he was delighted Dunlop had joined Moy Park, which supplies own-label and customer-branded chicken products to retailers and foodservice markets in the UK and Europe.
"We looked long and hard to find an individual of Nigel's calibre and experience," he said.
Campbell has received a number of awards, including the British Poultry Council's 'Man of the Year' award last year and Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association's award for making an 'Outstanding Contribution to Northern Ireland Food & Drink'.
The company has 12 sites based in Northern Ireland, England and France, employs more than 7,000 staff across 12 sites and supplies most of the major multiples in the UK.