David McCann is retiring as chairman and chief executive of Fyffes as the end of the month, signalling a changing of the guard at the Irish fruit importer.
The company, best-known to Irish people for selling bananas, confirmed that Helge Sparsoe, a former chief operating officer with rival Chiquita, will join Fyffes as chief executive at the end of July.
Mr McCann joined Fyffes in 1985 and became managing director of group operations four years later.
He was appointed chief executive in 1995 on the retirement of his father, Neil, and subsequently became chairman in 2006. Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation bought Fyffes in 2017.
Mr McCann said it had been a privilege to work for the company for more than three decades.
“Today Fyffes is the oldest fruit brand in the world and a leading supplier of fresh produce, employing over 10,000 people,” he added.
Mr Sparsoe said he would settle into the role before setting out Fyffes’ long-term strategy. Sumitomo senior vice-president Tom Wada will be appointed chairman.
“I appreciate Mr McCann’s contribution to the business over the years and the solid foundations that he has set,” Mr Wada said.
Sumitomo president and chief executive Masayuki Hyodo noted that the organisation appreciated the stability Mr McCann brought to Fyffes, particularly over the three years since the Japanese group bought the business.
Mr McCann is also chairman of property business and Fyffes spin-off Balmoral International Land, whose tenants include the banana importer and another former sister company, Total Produce.
The Dundalk-based McCann family’s Fruit Importers of Ireland bought the then London-headquartered Fyffes in the 1980s.
The combined business was briefly known as FII Fyffes before dropping the three initials from its name in 1989. The McCann family began its fruit importing business in the late 19th century.