Roger Whiteside, currently head of Punch Taverns, has been appointed by Greggs as its new chief executive and will take up the role next month.

It follows news last month that Ken McMeikan, the high street bakery business’ former head, announced he was leaving the company to become the chief executive of foodservice business Brakes.

Whiteside, currently heading up one of the UK’s largest leased pub companies with a current estate of around 4,500 pubs, has also taken charge of Marks & Spencer’s food business during his 20-year service with the retailer.

He was also one of the founding team members of online food retailer Ocado and served as joint managing director for four years.

Whiteside said: “I joined the Greggs board in 2008 and I have been impressed with the team, which I have got to know well. I look forward to working with them to further develop our strategy. Greggs is a great business with an iconic brand that has strengthened considerably over the past few years. I believe we have a great future.”

Derek Netherton, chairman of Greggs, said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Roger as chief executive. Not only has he got considerable management experience in retailing and food but also, as a non-executive director of Greggs during a period of significant change, he has been involved in developing the strategy. He is very well-respected within the company and his appointment will enable a smooth transition in what is still a challenging consumer environment.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ken for his leadership since joining Greggs in 2008. Despite the double-dip recession, the company has grown its core estate significantly, opening record numbers of new shops in a variety of locations and formats, and entering new channels to market through franchising and wholesaling.

“He has also considerably enhanced Greggs’ commitment to putting the community at the heart of the business. Ken will leave us with our very best wishes for his continued success in the future.”

Following a handover period, McMeikan will step down from Greggs board and leave the company on 8 March, with Whiteside due to take up his position as of 4 February. 

Greggs has said the company’s preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 29 December 2012 will now be released on 20 March.