Key Points:

Sealord chief executive Doug McKay has been lured to a new role heading Independent Liquor.

McKay was approached "out of the blue" by Independent's new private equity owners before Christmas.

With his five-year Sealord contract coming to an end and the company achieving record earnings in the past year it was "a good time to hand over the reins", he said yesterday.

Independent Liquor - founded by the late Michael Erceg - was purchased by a private equity partnership of PEP and CCMP in December for $1.3 billion.

McKay has a long history in the food and beverage sector. He was chief executive of Goodman Fielder (before the Graeme Hart takeover) and managing director of Lion Breweries. He has been with Sealord since 2002.

In that time the company faced some major external shocks such as the halving of the hoki quota, the doubling of the fuel price and the high dollar.

"There is no shortage of challenges in the fishing industry," he said.

But the company had a good executive team and board and would not have too much trouble finding a new chief executive.

McKay was not prepared to comment on the Independent Liquor business. He takes up the role of executive director in May.