Dame Fiona Kendrick has confirmed she is to stand down as chairman of Nestlé UK and Ireland at the end of 2018 and will leave the company after four decades.

Kendrick joined Nestlé in 1980 and has enjoyed a long and varied career with a number of roles in the UK and overseas. She was also President of the Food and Drink Federation between 2015 and 2016.

Originally a teacher, youth employment and skills are a particular passion for Kendrick and she was recognised for her services with a damehood in the 2015 New Year’s honours list for services to the food and drink industry, and to skills development.

Sheffield Hallam University commended Kendrick with an Honorary Doctorate later in 2015 for her contribution to promoting skills development and collaborations between academia and business.

Kendrick commented: “I have had an amazing career over the past 40 years and worked with extraordinary people who share my passion for the food and drink industry.

“Now it is time for me to do something else while maintaining my interest in skills and young people. For me, the future is about continuing to be involved in the things I love while finding more time to enjoy my wonderful family and, in particular, my beautiful grandsons.”

Kendrick will continue to sit on the Food and Drink Sector Council. She also plans to continue chairing a new University for engineers in Hereford, remain on the Institute of Apprenticeships board, and work on the Advisory Council for PWC.

Marco Settembri, CEO, Nestle Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa said: “On behalf of everybody at Nestlé, I thank Dame Fiona for her tireless work and vision throughout a wonderful career and wish her very well for the future.”