Food group Greencore has announced that its chief executive, David Dilger, will retire in March and Patrick Coveney, currently chief financial officer, will succeed him from that date.

Greencore chairman Ned Sullivan said Dilger, who is aged 51 and has been chief executive for 12 years, had successfully transformed Greencore into one of Europe’s leading convenience foods producers, overcoming enormous challenges along the way.

"In doing so, he has demonstrated vision, clarity of direction and unrelenting personal commitment to achieve our business objectives," said Sullivan. He had seen the company change from being an agri-business involved in sugar production to a convenience food business and property development company.

Coveney joined Greencore in 2005 as chief financial officer. He was appointed to the board in September of that year.