New Bettys chief leaves over ‘cultural’ differences

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The first non-family member to take the helm of Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate has left the business after just four months.

Andrew Baker took over as chief executive on May 3, following the retirement of Jonathan Wild after 36 years’ service.

But a statement issued by the company has confirmed that Mr Baker has stepped down.

The statement said: “It is with regret that we announce Andrew Baker has left Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate.

“Andrew brought many admirable qualities and enormous experience to the role, but he and the board both agreed that the longer-term ambitions and cultural direction for the group called for a different approach. We wish Andrew every success for the future.”

When asked by the Advertiser whether the company was currently interviewing for a new chief executive and when it expected to appoint a replacement for Mr Baker, a spokesman said: “We’re not able to supply any further information or comments at present as the board is currently working through the next steps.”

Mr Baker’s appointment in May followed a year-long search for a replacement for Jonathan Wild, whose great uncle, Frederick Belmont, founded Bettys in 1919.

Mr Wild joined the company in 1975, training in every job in the business before becoming managing director in 1986 and chief executive in 1996. When he first joined the business, it employed 350 staff and had an annual turnover of £1.6m.

When he retired in April, staff numbers had risen more than threefold to 1,246, sales had grown to £103m and Taylors of Harrogate was producing the third largest tea brand in the UK, the best-selling roast and ground coffee brand in the UK and exporting to more than 30 countries worldwide.

At the time of Mr Baker’s appointment, the chairman of Bettys & Taylors, Lesley Wild, said: “He is an accomplished chief executive who brings a wealth of experience in commercial, strategic, international, social and environmental responsibility.”

Mr Baker was formerly the CEO at Duchy Originals, the organic food company founded by The Prince of Wales. He has also held director roles at Cadbury Schweppes, Tate & Lyle and Premier Brands, as well as setting up and managing his own food marketing business in France.