Alastair Sykes has been appointed chairman and chief executive officer of the UK subsidiary of Swiss food giant Nestlé. Outgoing chairman and CEO Peter Blackburn retires after ten years in the role.

Sykes joined Nestlé in 1998 when he was appointed to his current post of managing director of Nestlé’s Rowntree division, which the Swiss group bought in 1988. Prior to that he was managing director of Spillers UK, a petfood division of the Dalgety group acquired by Nestlé ten years later in 1998. He has previously headed up McCormick Foods after moving into food marketing after an early career in engineering and production management.

Nestlé UK employs 10,000 staff across 18 sites. Headquartered in Croydon, the UK operation contributed £1.64bn (US$2.3bn) to Nestlé’s group turnover of SFr81.4bn (US$45.3bn) last year.