Müller Dairy UK has appointed former InBev president for Western Europe Stewart Gilliland as chief executive.
His appointment comes nearly a year after the departure of former Müller general manager Andrew Harrison, who left last June without a job to go to.
Harrison is currently interim marketing director of Boots (MW April 27) and will take over as chief executive of radio industry trade body RadioCentre in October.
Gilliland, who left InBev in December without a job to go to, is the company’s first UK chief executive. He joins Müller on June 5.
The UK division of Müller has been run from the German head office since Harrison left. The Müller family was understood to be concerned about the performance of the brand in the UK and took over direct control last autumn (MW October 27).
The brand, which was launched in the UK in 1986, dominates the sector, but it has come under increasing pressure from own-labels and rivals such as Nestlé and Danone in recent years. Müller marketing director Chris McDonough has been developing a strategy to move the brand into the snacking category.
According to AC Nielsen figures for the year to the end of last September, the overall Müller brand had grown volume sales by 12%. But there has been aggressive price promotion in some areas of the market such as low-fat yoghurts and last year it was forced to launch its first "buy one, get one free" offer.
Gilliland joined InBev, then Interbrew, in 2002 from Whitbread, where he was sales director for take-home and on-trade alcohol with responsibility for marketing.
His departure from the brewer last year was thought to have been triggered by Belgian-owned Interbrew’s takeover of Brazilian company Ambev.
Insiders suggest that the two management teams began a "pincer movement" to push out senior UK staff. Stella Artois marketing director Phil Rumbol also left the company in January to take up the same role at Cadbury.