The joint founders and CEOs of plant-based business This are to give up the roles to former Ella’s Kitchen executive Mark Cuddigan.

Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman, who set up the London-based company in 2019, will step down as co-CEOs on 19 February. They will both remain involved with This in support of the incoming chief and the board.

Cuddigan was CEO of Ella’s Kitchen for six years until last November but also held a number of management positions at the organic baby-food maker dating back to 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Ella’s Kitchen, based in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was acquired in 2013 by US food and drinks group Hain Celestial.

Commenting on Cuddigan’s appointment, Shovel said: “Pete and I have been semi-decent early-stage CEOs (mostly!), but we wanted to invite a seasoned pro to lead our baby from here.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have someone with such a rich experience within FMCG, genuine passion for our mission and an exceptional track record of driving sustainable growth through an engaged and empowered team, leading the business into the next chapter on the This journey.”

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By GlobalData

In a statement, This claimed to be the “largest independent brand” in the UK plant-based meat category. The B-Corp-certified company produces alternatives to pork, beef and chicken supplied into major supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda.

This won its first overseas listing last year by getting on the shelves of the Netherlands’ largest supermarket chain Albert Heijn. It also received backing from UK TV broadcaster ITV in return for marketing investment.

Cuddigan joins the business at a challenging time for the plant-based meat category, which has seen growth in sales and volumes tail-off in Europe and North America since the peaks of 2020-21.

A number of UK companies failed last year, including The Meatless Farm Company and Plant & Bean. Another meat-alternative business, VBites, went into administration in December before the brand and assets were rescued by founder Heather Mills in January.

Cuddigan said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to lead This into a new chapter. It’s a business on an impressive growth journey, with a strong brand, talented team and a reputation as a leader in the food industry.

“I will be very focused on working with the team to continue to deliver category leading growth, as we serve the millions of people across Europe who eat our products every day.”

Meanwhile, This said its managing director Mark Turner left the company in January having helped steer revenue growth last year of 47% to around £19.3m ($24.3m), according to the statement.

Shovel added: “We would like to thank Mark for the huge amount of effort and dedication he’s shown to help get the business to its current position, both in terms of commercial support, strategic planning and on being the driving force behind so many key initiatives.”