Agust Gudmundsson, the co-founder and CEO of UK private-label manufacturer Bakkavor, is to retire.

He will be replaced at the helm of the London-listed supplier to major UK grocers by Mike Edwards, the chief operating officer of the company’s UK operations.

Gudmundsson will step down with effect from 31 October with Edwards taking the reins the following day. The Icelander will remain a “significant” shareholder of the Bakkavor and become a non-executive director on the group’s board.

He founded the business 36 years ago with his brother and group board member Lydur Gudmundsson.

Bakkavor serves UK supermarket chains such as Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer, with products ranging from ready meals to desserts, pizza and bread.

Edwards joined Bakkavor in 2001 and was promoted into a series of roles before becoming COO of the UK business in 2014. He joined the board in December 2020.

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Commenting on Gudmundsson’s retirement, Simon Burke, the Bakkavor chairman, said: “Chairmen normally thank an outgoing CEO with a couple of polite sentences but, in this case, that will really not suffice. The founding and building of Bakkavor by Agust, along with his brother Lydur and their colleagues, has all the hallmarks of a great entrepreneurial endeavour.

“It has created a first-class business with strong market positions and great opportunities, one of the global leaders in its sector. Vision, courage, steadfastness, loyalty and the highest standards of professionalism have all been key elements of Agust’s leadership.”

On his successor as CEO, Burke said: “Mike has delivered operational excellence, strong customer relationships and consistent commercial performance in our UK business and I am greatly looking forward to working with him on the next stage of Bakkavor’s development.”

Agust Gudmundsson said: “After 36 years at the helm, I am incredibly proud of the company we have built and the teams and people I have worked with during this time. The past few years have demonstrated the strength and resilience of Bakkavor and I am confident of the group’s success for the future.”

Edwards said: “Joining the business over 20 years ago as a manufacturing manager at one of our pizza factories, I never expected to have the honour of being appointed CEO of Bakkavor. Whilst this is a particularly challenging environment, I absolutely believe challenges create opportunities and we are incredibly well placed, as a Bakkavor team, to move forward positively and purposefully delivering for colleagues, customers and shareholders.”

In its latest reported results, for the half-year to 25 June, Bakkavor saw its revenue increase year-on-year by 10.3% to GBP1.01bn (US$1.09bn) but its adjusted operating profit was down by 9.5% to GBP42.5m.

From the Just Food archive:

April 2010: The Just Food interview – Bakkavor
Bakkavor, one of the UK’s largest own-label food manufacturers, has had a tumultuous 12 months. The company even warned last year about the future of the business as a going concern after it missed a deadline to pay creditors. However, Bakkavor’s management is keen to look forward and, speaking to Dean Best in this month’s Just Food interview, CEO Agust Gudmundsson and CFO Richard Howes maintain a quiet optimism about the company’s future.