Patrick Coveney is to step down as CEO of convenience food group Greencore in March, to become Group CEO of SSP Group, an operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations including Upper Crust.

Greencore said Mr Coveney has informed the board of his decision, and will step down from his role as director and CEO from 30 March.

In a statement, Greencore said it will immediately begin the search process to appoint a new CEO.

In the meantime, the company said Gary Kennedy, non-executive Chair, will take a "more active" role in the business and will assume the role of Executive Chair from 31 March.

"On behalf of the board, I would like to express our deep gratitude to Patrick for leading the business for the past 14 years and for transforming Greencore into the UK's leading convenience food business," Mr Kennedy said.

Meanwhile, Chief Commercial Officer, Kevin Moore will assume the role of Deputy Chief Executive with immediate effect.

The company said Mr Coveney will continue to lead the executive team as CEO, until the end of March.

Greencore is due to update the market on Tuesday, when it publishes its full year results.

Mr Coveney's appointment as Group CEO of SSP Group follows the announcement from the company back in July that current CEO Simon Smith is to leave the business in December.

"Patrick is a strong and strategic leader, combining this with proven financial and operational experience in some of the most competitive categories in the food sector," said Mike Clasper, Chair of the Board of SSP Group.

"His customer and colleague focus make him ideally placed to lead SSP to future success," he added.

In a statement, Mr Coveney said he is "absolutely delighted" to be appointed as SSP's next Group CEO.

"The business has a strong board, a highly experienced leadership team and thousands of dedicated colleagues across the world," he said.

"It also has a clear strategy, deep relationships with client and brand partners, and a robust balance sheet," he added.