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    Kitwave founder announces retirement

    The founder of Kitwave, a North East wholesale company that has gone from a single cash-and-carry to a national operation with a £500 million turnover, has announced his retirement.

    Kitwave chief executive Paul Young will step down next March, when he will be replaced by the company’s chief operating officer Ben Maxted. In a statement to the Stock Exchange, which Kitwave joined in 2021, the company said that a handover period to Maxted had begun.

    The 29-depot strong delivered wholesaler deals in impulse products, frozen, chilled and fresh foods along with alcohol and grocery. It boasts of delivery fleet of 550 vehicles.

    Young’s departure has been announced alongside a trading update in which Kitwave said that it expected its full-year financial results to be in line with current market expectations, though it sounded a note of caution about inflationary pressures in its markets.

    Kitwave chairman Steve Smith said, “Paul’s retirement next year will mark the end of a remarkable career with Kitwave. Having founded the company in 1987 as a single-site confectionery business, Paul has been instrumental in its growth and development into the delivered wholesale business that it is today. On behalf of everyone at Kitwave, we thank Paul for his vision and enduring contribution to the group and we wish him well in his retirement.”

    Young said, “On behalf of the directors, we are delighted to announce that Ben Maxted will become chief executive officer following my retirement at the company’s AGM in March 2024. As chief operating officer, Ben has demonstrated excellent commercial and operational expertise and these skills will continue to be invaluable in his new role and in delivering the next phase of our growth strategy.

    “The board continues to remain committed to delivering value to our shareholders. I believe that Kitwave will continue to go from strength to strength and post my departure, I look forward to being a long-term shareholder in the company.”

    Kitwave said it had seen a “strong” performance in the first half of its financial year, with “positive momentum” across all divisions. It said the integration of its West Country Food Holdings division, which it acquired for £29m last December, had been successful, with a new distribution centre for its South West operations due to open next year.

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