Shares in Greggs fell by 3% yesterday – following the shock news of the departure of chief executive Ken McMeikan.

The highly-regarded boss said he would be leaving the high street bakery chain to join Brakes Group – the US venture capitalist-backed foodservice catering company.

The City views McMeikan as having been instrumental in turning Greggs into the modern retail business it is today since joining the firm in 2008.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, downgraded his recommendation on the company, saying McMeikan was “the architect of a material modernisation of Greggs”.

He was also at the forefront of the anti-pasty tax campaign, in conjunction with British Baker, which saw the industry reverse plans by the chancellor to add VAT to hot pies and savouries.

However, Greggs has faced a difficult time of late, revealing on 6 October that its like-for-like sales had fallen by 2.6% in the 14 weeks prior.

Shares in Greggs closed down last night by 14p at 472.5p.