McVitie’s owner Pladis has launched a search for a new chief executive following the exit of Cem Karakaş.

Current United Biscuits UK chairman Jim Zaza, who is also a member of the Pladis board, will take on the role of interim CEO.

Karakaş (pictured above) is stepping down with immediate effect, said Pladis, and will take a leave of absence from his role as deputy chairman of parent company Yildiz Holding for family health reasons. He will be retained as an advisor to the United Biscuits UK board.

Zaza has been an executive on the Pladis board since Yildiz Holding brought together its core confectionery and bakery businesses to form the global company just over two years ago. In addition to United Biscuits, it includes Godiva Chocolatier, Ulker and DeMet’s Candy Company. Zaza has previously held senior executive positions at PepsiCo, Black + Decker and Eastman Kodak.

Karakaş joined Pladis as CEO having previously served as an executive board member at Godiva, DeMet’s and United Biscuits following their acquisitions by Yildiz Holding. At Yildiz, he worked with various biscuits and confectionery brands as executive deputy chairman and chief finance officer, leading the integration of more than 20 baked goods and confectionery businesses into the company.

Pladis said its board had started a formal search and selection process to identify a new CEO.