Nichols announced the CEO switch last week

Nichols announced the CEO switch last week

Marnie Millard's promotion to the head of Nichols has been in the making since she joined the company a year ago, an analyst has claimed.

The UK soft drinks maker announced last week Millard will take over from CEO Brendan Hynes in May. However, in a note today, analyst Investec said the move, a “surprise externally”, was “meticulously planned” after Hynes indicated he wanted to step down "some time ago".

The analyst added: “Marnie’s appointment last year (was) the first stage of the succession plan.”

Investec praised Millard's strong CV. Before joining Nichols as the MD of its UK soft drinks business, she was MD of Refresco, a European bottler of soft drinks. She also spent ten years at Macaw Soft Drinks, a division of Cott, and worked at Gerber, a market-leading juice manufacturer.

“Although she is not known to the City, we see no issues with the change,” the analyst said.

Meanwhile, Investec said a strong outlook for international markets and new opportunities in the domestic market mean Nichol's sales this year could increase by 5%. 

Sales growth in last week's full-year 2012 results were 9% overall.