Debenhams legal chief joins food brand giant

Debenhams is losing its head of legal to Associated British Foods. High street retail company Debenhams' general counsel and company secretary David Wilson is set to join food producer and processor Associated British Foods in December.

Wilson will join the FTSE 100-listed company as its director of legal services and company secretary. He will report to its chief executive Garry Weston.

Associated British Foods is taking Wilson to replace its company secretary and director of legal services Trevor Shaw. An inside source says Shaw is set to retire in December.

Associated British Foods is the UK's leading bread-maker. The company's brand portfolio includes Kingsmill, Sunblest and Allisons, Ryvita, and Burton Wagon Wheels.

Its in-house legal department of seven lawyers outsources work to City firm Herbert Smith and London-based Blount Petre Kramer.

Debenhams is searching for a new general counsel.

A Debenhams spokeswoman says Wilson joined to take the company through its split from the Burton group last year.

She says: “He was appointed to see us through our demerger in January 1998 and he set up the new corporate function. He's now leaving to go to a FTSE 100 company. It is perfectly amicable.”

A Debenhams spokeswoman says Wilson will be involved in the search for his successor.

Wilson was company secretary at BAT Industries before joining Debenhams in January 1998.

Wilson and Shaw were unavailable for comment.