Benoit Testard joined United Biscuits from Groupe Bel in 1999

Benoit Testard joined United Biscuits from Groupe Bel in 1999

UK biscuit and snack producer United Biscuits has appointed Benoit Testard, the head of its domestic business, as group chief executive.

Testard, who has led United Biscuits' UK operations since 2004, replaces the McVitie's maker's executive chairman David Fish, who will become the company's chairman on a non-executive basis.

"The change has been made because David and the shareholders felt that now was a good time to introduce a CEO to our structure," United Biscuits told just-food today (16 February).

United Biscuits, which owns brands including McVitie's and McCoy's, has been at the centre of takeover speculation for over six months.

In July, reports in the UK claimed that United Biscuits' shareholders, private-equity groups PAI Partners and Blackstone, were in talks with investment banks about auctioning the business they bought for GBP1.6bn (US$2.57bn) in 2006. 

Companies from US soup group Campbell Soup Co. to China's Bright Food have been linked to United Biscuits, although the UK business has refused to comment publicly. It is unclear whether Testard's appointment will have an effect on any possible moves to sell the business.

Before heading United Biscuits' UK business, which accounts for 70% of annual sales, Testard led the company's operations in northern Europe. He joined United Biscuits in 1999 from French cheese maker Groupe Bel, the owner of brands including Babybel and The Laughing Cow.