Greggs has appointed Ken McMeikan, currently retail director at Sainsbury’s, to succeed Sir Michael Darrington at the helm of the company.

Sir Michael is due to retire at the end of July, after 24 years with the company, but will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

McMeikan, who will become chief executive, will join the board of the retail bakery giant on 1 June. Announcing his appointment, Greggs chairman Derek Netherton said: "When we began the process to find a successor to Mike Darrington we recognised he would be an extremely hard act to follow. So we are delighted to have found, in Ken McMeikan, a person with the right mix of abilities and qualities to lead the business in the next stage of its development."

Netherton added that McMeikan’s "considerable retailing experience" would "greatly complement the skills and expertise that already exist within the Greggs senior team".

McMeikan, 42, joined Sains-bury’s in 2005 after a short period as CEO of Tesco Japan. Previously he had spent 14 years in operational roles with Tesco, becoming chief executive of the Europa Foods convenience store chain after its acquisition in 2002.

Netherton also paid tribute to Sir Michael for "his outstanding contribution to the considerable growth and development of the business over the last 25 years".

Sir Michael said McMeikan’s experience would "prove particularly helpful in progressing the development of Greggs as a much more unified and customer-focused national brand".