Our leaders

Meet the experienced and passionate people who run our business.

José Nobre - Chief Executive Officer, AB Agri

José’s farming background ignited his passion for agriculture and his strongly-held belief that what we eat, and what we feed our families, should be produced safely and sustainably. 

He completed his Baccalaureate in farming, gaining practical experience on poultry and swine production units. After graduating in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Universities of Rouen and Marseille, José began working in the biotech field, where his farming knowledge inspired him to pioneer the use of technology in agricultural production. This was the start of his extensive international career, which has taken him across Europe, the US, Japan, Latin America and China, and included the creation of crop protection company Arysta LifeScience EMEA, which he built and nurtured into a successful global business.
José has fulfilled a variety of executive and business development roles, operating across the human health, animal health, nutrition and feed, and crop protection sectors.

Nie Kuo – Managing Director, AB Agri China

Mr Nie joined the business in 2004 in the role of General Manager at the Liaoning Company. In 2012 he became responsible for leading our successful ABNA business, overseeing six feed mills across China. Today Mr Nie holds the position of Managing Director of AB Agri China, managing 10 mills, 1 trading company and 1 group management center, which in total employs around 1000 people.  

With Mr Nie's leadership, AB Agri China draws on three decades of feed safety management experience in the UK, bringing together international knowledge from across AB Agri and the ABF group, with a rich understanding of the livestock and feed sector in China.

Simon Heath - Managing Director, AB Connect

Having joined AB Agri in the late 80's as part of the graduate scheme in the UK, Simon has a passion for agriculture, stemming from his farming background. 

He held several sales and management positions across the UK before pursuing numerous business development opportunities in the US, Canada and China. 

Following the amalgamation of ABN, KW and Trident into new animal nutrition business AB Connect, Simon was appointed its Managing Director, overseeing a turnover of £1 billion and a workforce of more than 760 people.

Ian Wellock - Managing Director, AB Neo

After 12 years in academia in Scotland, first studying and then as a research scientist, Ian made the move into the commercial world of nutrition when he joined ABN as a pig nutritionist in 2007. Two years later he moved across to Primary Diets to focus on piglet nutrition. He became General Manager Primary Diets in 2015 before taking up the opportunity to lead the newly-created AB Neo division in 2020. 

In his current role, Ian is building on the strong foundations of Agilia (Denmark), ASN (Spain) and Primary Diets (Poland and UK), to meet the nutrition needs of young farmed animals. 

The best part of working at AB Agri for Ian? The industry and people we are able to work with, our customers and colleagues.

Juan Ignacio (Nacho) Fernández - Managing Director, AB Vista

Nacho became Managing Director of AB Vista in September 2020. He joined AB Vista in 2015 as Regional Sales Director for West and South Europe, before becoming EMEA Director in 2017. 

Nacho is an agriculture engineer by training, specialising in animal production. He has over 25 years’ experience, having worked for many different feed additive companies over the years. 

He holds an MBA from ESIC in Madrid, Spain and further qualifications in animal nutrition.

Josh Hoopes - Managing Director, Intellync

Josh re-joined AB Agri in 2018 after five years at our sister company AB Sugar where he held a number of general management and commercial positions in bioethanol, seed technology and horticulture. 

While leading the transformation of British Sugar’s horticulture business he became a keen advocate of using data and technology to drive agricultural productivity forward. 

Josh holds a BSc in Finance from the University of Utah and an MBA from Manchester Business School which led to his early career experience with Deloitte, AB Agri and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Dr Valerie Schuster - Managing Director, Livalta

Valerie studied economics at university in Germany and financed her studies by working in IT and as a freelance sports reporter. After her PhD, she moved to Ethiopia, working for a large German-Ethiopian development programme to kickstart the country’s industrialisation. From there, she joined the Boston Consulting Group, working all over the world in strategy for chemicals, energy and pro bono projects to prevent chronic malnutrition of children. 

Valerie joined the strategy team of AB Agri in the UK in 2015 and became Managing Director of Livalta in 2020.

Mark Aitchison - Managing Director, Frontier Agriculture

Mark has a BSc in Applied Biology from Liverpool University and a postgraduate degree in Agronomy and Crop Husbandry. Starting out as a trainee agronomist with Schering Agriculture, he progressed to become group accounts Manager. 

In 1992, Mark joined Cargill’s agricultural division, subsequently occupying several roles including General Manager. Following Cargill’s merger with Banks Agriculture, he was appointed MD of the newly formed business, playing a leading role in a further merger with Allied Grain and taking up his current role in 2005. 

Mark is a trustee of the Rutland Agricultural Society and in 2014 was awarded an honorary doctorate from his former university, Harper Adams, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to UK agriculture.