UK food and drinks producer Princes Group has picked deputy managing director Simon Harrison as its new CEO.

Harrison has been working as the company’s deputy MD since last June.

Before joining Princes in 2021 as chief commercial officer, he spent nearly two decades at the global drinks giant Coca-Cola Europacific Partners.

Harrison will succeed Cameron Mackintosh, who had been Princes’ managing director since 2017.

The tinned tuna maker, which is owned by the Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp., told Just Food that Mackintosh is leaving “to pursue new opportunities”.

Commenting on Mackintosh’s exit, Kazuhito Suematsu, chairman of Princes Group, said: “Having overseen major investment into Princes infrastructure in recent years, Cameron Mackintosh will be leaving the business, and we wish him well for the future.

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“Under Simon’s tenure as deputy managing director, our business has gained significant momentum. He will continue to accelerate this growth as CEO.”

Princes’ portfolio includes its namesake canned seafood label, Branston baked beans, Crosse & Blackwell tinned soups, and Jucee squashes and cordials, among others.

Last December, Italian food processor Newlat revealed it was in talks with Mitsubishi to buy Princes, discussions that had reached “a very advanced stage”.

However, in February, Newlat confirmed negotiations had come to a halt. The company said it had altered its bid to account for “a decrease in demand and a significant drop in inflation” in the UK market. This proposal was rejected by Mitsubishi.

Newlat said it “remains open to re-evaluating the target” if Mitsubishi decides to change its mind about the offer.

Sky News had reported in December that Newlat was one of two remaining bidders for Princes, alongside UK-based private-equity firm Epiris.

In the statement on his appointment, Harrison said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed as CEO to lead this fantastic business on its next phase of growth and to capitalise on the significant opportunities available to us, whilst continuing our unique mission of ‘proudly offering great tasting choices for everyone without costing the earth’.”

In January, Princes revealed it moved into the red in its last full financial year. It reported a loss attributable to its owners of £42.7m ($54.2m) in the 12 months to the end of March 2023 – against a profit of £17.2m a year earlier.

Turnover stood at £1.74bn, against £1.44bn in the 12 months previous. Higher selling prices helped Princes’ top line, it said.