Jim Leighton, an experienced executive in the U.S. poultry industry, has been selected to become the new managing director and chief executive officer of Australia-based poultry company Ingham’s.

According to a statement from the company, Leighton will start in his new role upon the completion of visa formalities, which is expected to be by the end of the 2018 calendar year.

“Having conducted a global and domestic search we have no doubt that Jim is the right person to lead Ingham’s. He was the standout candidate and we are thrilled he is moving to Australia from the United States to take up the role,” said Peter Bush, chairman of Ingham’s Group “Jim has a perfect mix of experience and skill sets for Ingham’s. As well as deep experience in the protein/poultry industry sector, he brings us a valuable blend of commercial and operations functional expertise.”

“His career was built coming up through the ranks of manufacturing and supply chain management, with a focus on driving operational improvements and efficiencies. During his career he has been recognized for his ability to build capability and teams, and scaling operations to support business growth.”

Jim Leighton's business experience

Leighton currently serves on the board of Aryzta, a EUR4 billion (US$4.56 billion), public, global specialty baking business head quartered in Europe, and is currently working on a number of special projects to help the company as it navigates through a significant business turnaround.

He was most recently president and founder of 40North Foods, which was a start-up venture backed by Pilgrim's Pride and JBS. Prior to that, he served as chief operating officer, interim CEO and director at Boulder Brands, where he played a key role scaling the business and ultimately selling it to Pinnacle Foods.

Lieghton also spent seven years at Perdue Farms and, in his last role there, served as president of the company’s global multi-billion dollar food group (retail branded and non-branded, food service, and turkey and chicken businesses). He spent his formative years in a variety of operations roles at Nabisco Foods, The Hain-Celestial Group and ConAgra.

Leighton said: “I am extremely excited, privileged and honored to accept the role of managing director and chief executive officer of Ingham’s. There are very few companies that have the rich heritage and legacy of success as Ingham’s. I am looking forward to working with the board and all the Ingham’s team members to stimulate progress and growth, while sustaining the core of what has made Ingham’s successful for the past 100 years”.

CEO transition

Quinton Hildebrand served as the acting CEO of Ingham’s during the search for a permanent leader, and will remain until Leighton begins his employment with the company.

The CEO position became open in August, when Mick McMahon departed following his June announcement of his intent to resign as the company’s chief executive.