DAME Fiona Kendrick is standing down as chief executive officer of Nestlé UK & Ireland - although she will continue to serve as chairman.

She will be replaced as CEO by Stefano Agostini, currently President & CEO of Nestlé Waters Italy, on July 1.

The company employs 8,000 employees across 20 sites in the UK and Ireland, including about 2,000 at its York confectionery factory in Haxby Road, where key brands such as KitKat, Yorkie and Polos are made.

The company said in a statement that Dame Fiona will provide 'strategic support' to the company as chairman.

It said that having originally joined the company in 1980, she had headed up the UK and Irish market since October 2012 after holding a variety of positions both in the UK and globally.

"A well-known figure in the industry she was created Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to the food industry and support for skills and opportunities for young people in 2015," it said.

"Fiona has served as President of the Food & Drink Federation and a UK Commissioner for Employment and Skills. She is currently a Board member of the Institute for Apprenticeships."

The company said that Stefano, married with three children, joined Nestlé in Italy in 1989 as Regional Sales Manager, rising rapidly through a range of senior roles, including Country Business Manager for Nestlé Waters UK.