Alan Hempton, managing director of Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI), has retired after 45 years in the trade. He joined the business as a 16-year-old apprentice engineer in 1964 and was named Apprentice of the Year in 1966 and 1967.

He was appointed general manager in 1979 and went on to become managing director in 1987.

During his time as MD, ABI began exporting to the Republic of Ireland in ‘91 and to Great Britain in ‘98. Exports now account for around 30% of the bakery’s total output. Hempton also notes the success of Kingsmill as one of his career highlights.

Hempton has also held a number of other positions throughout his career, including president of the Irish Association of Master Bakers and, on four separate occasions, chairman of the Northern Ireland Bakery Council.

He has also been Chairman of the Irish Bakers’ Benevolent Society (IBBS) and remains a member of the board.

George Weston, chief executive of parent company Associated British Foods, said: “He has been a great leader in the industry for many years and we wish him many happy years in his retirement.”

An announcement on the new managing director is expected later in February.