Martin Glenn departs United Biscuits for the Football Association

Marketing veteran and United Biscuits boss Martin Glenn is leaving the business to become chief executive of the Football Association.

He takes on the newly created-role at the head of the organisation, replacing the general secretary role that was scrapped in January when Alex Horne departed. Glenn starts later this year (18 May).

His appointment is somewhat left field for the FA, which cited the marketer’s reputation for making “well-loved British brands more dynamic, competitive and international in their reach” as key to the hire. The FA has been changing internally since the arrival of chairman Greg Dyke in 2013, who has made moves to improve the brand’s standing among younger football fans, including a review of its image and a proactive approach to promoting its work with the national teams and grassroots initiatives.

Glenn said; “This has been a difficult decision, as I have had a hugely enjoyable - if challenging time - at United Biscuits. I am very sad to be leaving the business, but the opportunity with the FA is just too good to pass up, as I am sure many people understand.”

“I am incredibly proud to have been chosen to play my part in shaping the future direction of The FA. There are few more important and interesting places to work than Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park and I am very much looking forward to meeting the staff and leading them into an exciting new period. I very much hope my personal experience of operating in highly competitive global markets will help The FA in its own drive to promote greater success for our all of our national teams in international tournaments.”

Glenn, the current president of The Marketing Society, has shown on numerous occasions his understanding of the power of brand to driving a company’s commercial fortunes. He sanctioned the increase in marketing spend at United Biscuits that led to the rebirth of the McVitie’s brand with its “Sweet” campaign. The plan boosted return-on-investment by almost 90 per cent during its first six months last year.

The strategy, which saw all United Biscuits sweets and savoury snacks fall under the McVitie’s and Jacob’s brands respectively, no doubt helped make it a more attractive proposition to eventual buyers by Turkish food manufacturer Yildiz Holding last year.

Glenn will be replaced by Jeff van der Eems, who is currently chief executive of the United Biscuits international business. Glenn will remain on the board at the biscuit business.

Prior to his time at United Biscuits, Glenn he was at PepsiCo where he is said to have masterminded the Walkers’ brand’s market share spike from the mid 20s to more than 60 per cent. In the 90s. He became company president in 1998 before leaving in 2006 to run Birdseye. He has held senior postions at Cadbury, Mars and Deloitte.

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