UPDATE 1-Punch Taverns boss to become Greggs CEO

Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:10am EST

LONDON Jan 24 (Reuters) - British baker Greggs said on Thursday it had appointed Roger Whiteside to be its new chief executive - the current boss of pubs group Punch Taverns who boasts over 30 years of retail experience.

Whiteside, who has been a non-executive director at Greggs since 2008, will take the helm from the beginning of February in what is a turbulent period for the British high street.

In his current role at Punch Taverns, Whiteside had to restructure the group's debt profile in October after seeing a sharp drop in full-year profit.

The 54-year-old was also one of the founding team at grocery delivery service Ocado and led a turnaround of off-licence chain Thresher Group. Prior to that he spent 20 years at Marks & Spencer.

Greggs Chairman Derek Netherton said that Whiteside had been involved in developing group strategy in what has been a period of significant change for the firm.

"He is very well respected within the company and his appointment will enable a smooth transition in what is still a challenging consumer environment," he said. Shares in Greggs were up 1.3 percent in early trading.

Current Chief Executive Ken McMeikan, who has run the firm since 2008, quit in December to take up the CEO role at catering firm Brakes Group.

Greggs posted a 2.9 percent fall in sales over the Christmas period, blaming wet weather and fewer shopping hours. Shares in the group have fallen 7 percent in the last 12 months.

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