Associated British Foods plc has announced the appointment of Eoin Tonge as the company’s next finance director. Tonge will succeed John Bason who will be retiring as finance director and will be stepping down from the ABF Board.
It is reported that Tonge will join the business no later than February 2023. He is currently chief financial officer and chief strategy officer at Marks and Spencer Group plc, a position he has held since May 2022, having joined as chief financial officer in June 2020.
Prior to that, Tonge was reportedly chief financial officer of Greencore Group plc from 2016 to 2020 and, before that, was managing director of Greencore’s grocery division and chief strategy officer.
After stepping down from the ABF Board, Bason will reportedly become chairman of a newly constituted strategic advisory board and senior advisor at the company’s retail business, Primark. He is said to have agreed to stay on as finance director until the end of April 2023 to ensure a “smooth” transition.
The Primark strategic advisory board will provide external expertise to Paul Marchant, Primark chief executive, and to the Primark leadership team as the business continues its expansion and development.
The board will also have members chosen for specific and relevant areas of expertise. However, it will reportedly not have a governance role and Primark’s financial and operational reporting relationship with ABF will remain unchanged.
Since its trading update of 20 June 2022, the group’s trading is said to be in line with expectations and the group’s full year outlook remains unchanged.
George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Eoin to ABF. His extensive knowledge and experience of both retail and food industries along with his energy and broad understanding of business make him an ideal successor to John as finance director.
“John has been at ABF for more than 23 years. His contribution has been wide-ranging and exceptional, and I’d like to thank him for both his unbounded commitment to our company and for his support to me personally.”
He added: “I am delighted therefore that he will be making his wisdom and experience available both to Paul and to Primark, a business that he admires and knows well.”
Michael McLintock, chairman of Associated British Foods, said: “On behalf of the ABF board, I would like to record our deep gratitude for the exceptional service that John has given the group during his 23 years as finance director.
“His contribution over this period has been immense and, when he steps down from the board at the end of April, he will be hugely missed as both a friend and a colleague. I am delighted that in due course we will continue to benefit from John’s expertise and advice in his new role at Primark. I join George in extending a very warm welcome to Eoin.”
John Bason, finance director, said: “It has been a privilege to be Finance Director of ABF in a period that has seen considerable development of the group. I have enjoyed my time at ABF hugely and I’d like to thank my team for their support and to recognise the many colleagues with whom I have worked.
“I’m now looking forward to working closely with Paul and his leadership team to deliver on Primark’s full potential.”
Paul Marchant, Primark chief executive, said: “John has been a longstanding and trusted colleague and I am excited by the opportunity to work with him in his new role. I know he’ll bring his wide-ranging experience to help shape the direction of the Primark strategy.”
Tonge said: “ABF has a prestigious heritage, a strong sense of purpose and an exciting portfolio of diverse businesses. I am looking forward to working with the management teams to meet the challenges ahead and drive growth.”