AF Blakemore CEO Carol Welch

Carol Welch will take over as AF Blakemore CEO in April

Spar distributor and retailer AF Blakemore has announced that Carol Welch will join as chief executive in April, succeeding Jerry Marwood who is leaving to focus more time on his non-executive directorships and consultancy roles.

Welch joins the business from Odeon Cinemas Group, where she is managing director UK & Ireland and commercial officer Europe. Over the last six years, she has transformed Odeon’s customer and colleague experience, introducing Luxe recliner cinemas, new digital systems, more efficient operating models, and a purpose driven, inclusive culture. She has overseen growth of commercial revenues across nine European markets and navigated the business through the pandemic. Welch has significant experience of branded food and drink, retail, and foodservice, having held positions at Costa Coffee, Associated British Foods, Cadbury-Schweppes, and PepsiCo. She is also a non-executive director at Hammerson plc.

She said: “I am thrilled to be joining AF Blakemore as CEO. It is a fantastic business with a deep understanding of retail, wholesale and foodservice and an enviable values-led culture, fuelled by more than 7,000 colleagues and partners who are passionate about delivering great food and drink solutions. I’m excited to be working with the shareholders and team to deliver their business ambition.”

Peter Blakemore, chairman, commented: “We’re delighted that Carol is joining, she brings a wealth of experience from multiple sectors, a strong strategic vision combined with an approach aligned to the Blakemore Way and values.

“Carol joining sees the culmination of our CEO succession plan following Jerry’s decision to leave the business at the end of this financial year. Jerry has done an outstanding job for Blakemore’s over the last 11 years, handing over strong sales performance and a strategic plan that will help us to deliver the innovation and ambition that are hallmarks of our business.”

Marwood said: “I’ve had a fabulous time at AFB and had the privilege of working with an outstanding group of people. Together we have proven that a privately owned family business can succeed in one of the most competitive markets in the UK and still uphold core values that make us all proud to be part of the team. Carol is a great recruit and clearly demonstrates our shareholders’ ambition for the future.”