The owner of a major Carlisle employer Cavaghan and Gray is to appoint a retail industry heavyweight as its chairman.

Boparan Holdings Ltd, the parent company for 2 Sisters Food Group, has appointed former chief executive of Co-op Group Richard Pennycook to the role after current chairman Lord Charles Allen of Kensington announced his decision to retire after almost nine years at the helm.

Richard Pennycook – who has been credited for the transformation of Co-op during his spell there from 2014 – is also chairman of the British Retail Consortium and the lead non-executive board member at the Department of Education.

He said: “I have long admired 2 Sisters and I am very excited to be taking over the Chairman role.

“I look forward to working with Ranjit (Singh Boparan, owner and president of Boparan Holdings Ltd) and Ronald (Kers, chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group) to further build and strengthen the Group.”

Lord Allen will make way for Mr Pennycook “in early 2020”, the company said.

It said Lord Allen had steered the company to become “the successful, diversified food manufacturer it is today” following the £342 million acquisition of Northern Foods Ltd in 2011 – which saw Cavaghan and Gray become part of Boparan Holdings.

He said: “I have very much enjoyed my time at 2 Sisters Food Group and working with Ranjit and Ronald Kers.

“They are a formidable team and I wish them continued success with the business.”

The Cavaghan and Gray food production factory is based in Brunel Way.

In 2018 it won a major contract to supply M&S, creating 200 jobs.