Greggs poaches new chief executive

Roger Whiteside will leave Punch Taverns and take up new role while pub chain is in the middle of crucial debt negotiations

Greggs has appointed a new chief executive, poaching Roger Whiteside from pub chain Punch Taverns in the middle of crucial debt negotiations. Whiteside, a former managing director of Ocado and head of food at M&S, has been a non-executive director at Greggs for almost five years, and will take up his new role next month.

He said: “Greggs is a great business with an iconic brand that has strengthened considerably over the past few years. I believe we have a great future.” He replaces Ken McMeikan, who is leaving Greggs to join food supplier Brakes.

However, the future of Punch Taverns still hangs in the balance as it attempts to renegotiate its £2bn debt mountain in order to avoid breaching loan agreements.

The business suffered from a debt-fuelled expansion binge that took its estate to 10,000 pubs by 2005, but Whiteside reduced this to 4,500 by the time he left.

Punch Taverns said it will not replace him until on-going negotiations end, with chairman Stephen Billingham made an executive and property director Neil Griffiths promoted to chief operating officer.

Greggs declined to reveal how much new boss Whiteside will be paid, however, it is thought to be at a similar level to the £470,000 basic salary his predecessor earned.

Last year his Punch Taverns salary was £430,000, but was topped up with bonuses and benefits to £706,000.

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