Birds Eye names Molson Coors strategy lead as new UK marketing director

Jim Shearer takes over from Sarah Koppens, who helped steer the business through two years of growth and attract 2.4 million new customers during the first Covid-19 lockdown alone.

Birds Eye has hired former Molson Coors strategy leader Jim Shearer as its new UK and Ireland marketing director, replacing Sarah Koppens.

Shearer joins the frozen food company on 28 February after 18 years at the Molson Coors Beverage Company, the business behind beer and alcohol brands including Coors Light, Carling and Aspall Cider. He was most recently category, insight and innovation director across EMEA and APAC, following three years as marketing director between 2017 and 2020.

In his new role, Shearer will become a member of Birds Eye’s UK and Ireland board, while leading the marketing agenda for the Birds Eye, Goodfella’s and Aunt Bessie’s brands. He will report directly into UK and Ireland general manager Steve Challouma.

“I know I am joining a business that, as category leader in the UK and Ireland, rightfully has high expectations to meet from its customers and consumers alike,” Shearer says.

“I could not be more excited to be joining such a progressive organisation, its iconic brands and impressive portfolio. The business’s commitment to building its brands and a more sustainable future is impressive, as is the determination of its people to do just that.”How Birds Eye is using innovation to fuel the ‘rediscovery’ of frozen food

Former marketing director Sarah Koppens left Birds Eye last month and has moved to New Zealand. She joined the business at the beginning of 2020, succeeding Steve Challouma as he was promoted into his new role, and helped steer Birds Eye through two years of growth.

Consumed by three in four households every year, Birds Eye food features in 4 million UK meals each day. During the first lockdown alone the brand attracted 2.4 million new customers in the space of a month, including nearly a million new customers for its pea products and 700,000 additional shoppers for its small chicken pieces.

Meanwhile, the business’s new Green Cuisine brand, launched in 2019 to take advantage of the growing appetite for vegetarian meat alternatives, is now worth £17.5m in the UK, according to Nielsen. In just two years, the range has expanded from three to 15 products, including burgers, mince, nuggets and sausage rolls.

Last month, Challouma told Marketing Week Birds Eye’s focus is now on a continual programme of innovation aimed at expanding healthy product ranges, “de-emphasising” parts of the portfolio that don’t fall into these categories and bringing new products to market.

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