Australian poultry supplier Inghams Group has named its new CEO.

Jim Leighton, a US food industry veteran, will succeed Mick McMahon, who stepped down in August.

Leighton, who also becomes Inghams’ managing director, serves on the board of Swiss-Irish bakery company Aryzta and was most recently president and founder of 40North Foods, a start-up venture backed by meat giant JBS and its majority-owned US subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride.

Prior to that, he served as chief operating officer, interim CEO and director at Boulder Brands, the US gluten-free business sold to Pinnacle Foods in 2015.

Leighton also spent seven years at US meat processor Perdue Farms, as well as working at Nabisco Foods, Hain Celestial and Conagra Brands.

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Inghams Group chairman Peter Bush said: “Having conducted a global and domestic search we have no doubt that Jim is the right person to lead Ingham’s. 

“He was the standout candidate and we are thrilled he is moving to Australia from the United States to take up the role.

“Jim has a perfect mix of experience and skill sets for Ingham’s. As well as deep experience in the protein/poultry industry sector, he brings us a valuable blend of commercial and operations functional expertise.

“His career was built coming up through the ranks of manufacturing and supply chain management, with a focus on driving operational improvements and efficiencies. During his career, he has been recognised for his ability to build capability and teams, and scaling operations to support business growth.”

Leighton said: “There are very few companies that have the rich heritage and legacy of success as Inghams. I am looking forward to working with the board and all the Inghams team members to stimulate progress and growth, while sustaining the core of what has made Inghams successful for the past 100 years.”

Inghams chief commercial officer Quinton Hildebrand has operated as acting CEO in recent months and will continue to do so until Leighton takes up the reins.