Our leadership team

Find out more about the leadership of AB Agri, read our Board of Directors Biographies.

David Yiend

David Yiend

Chief Executive Officer, AB Agri

Progressing from selling eggs after school to being elected Chairman of the Union at Devon’s renowned Seale-Hayne Agricultural College, David’s entrepreneurial spirit was always apparent. His passion for agriculture led to a National Sales Manager role for family-owned seed company, Sinclair McGill, heading a 60-strong team and inspiring the changes required for growth.

From 1989, as Business Manager of Trident Feeds, David oversaw a 14-year period of progression, culminating in his 2003 appointment as CEO of the newly formed AB Agri. His 2005 discussions with Cargill led to the establishment of Frontier, a joint-venture which has grown into the UK’s leading arable business, with David as Chairman. A huge industry presence, David has previously led the Prince’s Trust Rural Action team, is a STEM ambassador to schools and led the establishment of AIC, the trade association he chaired from 2006-08.

Mark Aitchison

Mark Aitchison

Managing Director, Frontier Agriculture

Liverpudlian Mark attained a BSc in Applied Biology from the city’s University before gaining a post-graduate degree in Agronomy and Crop Husbandry from Harper Adams Agricultural College. Starting out as a trainee agronomist with Schering Agriculture, over the next eight years he progressed to the position of Group Accounts Manager.

In 1992, Mark joined Cargill’s agricultural division, subsequently occupying several roles including Regional Sales Manager, Commercial Director and ultimately, 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 becoming Managing Director of Frontier Agriculture Ltd in 2005. Rutland resident Mark is a trustee of the county’s 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.

Richard Cloke

Richard Cloke

Group Finance Director, AB Agri

A nine year AB Agri veteran, Richard’s previous positions include a spell as Finance Director of ABF Grocery, plus an equivalent role at Silver Spoon and nine months as Financial Reporting Manager for British Sugar.

Prior to this, he worked in practice, putting his BSc FCA qualifications to use first as a chartered accountant, then as Group Audit Manager for predecessor organisations to PWC.

A wide reaching influence within the industry, Richard also a Non-executive Director of Frontier and sits as a Trustee Director of the Associated British Foods Pension Scheme.

Richard Cooper

Richard Cooper

Managing Director, AB Vista

Richard joined as Managing Director in 2004 when AB Vista was a business start-up, with the aim of making the company a top global player in the micro-ingredients industry.

Richard is a keen advocate of research into revolutionary feed micro-ingredients and has spent most of his 20 year career pioneering the use of enzymes in animal nutrition. His interest in animal nutrition was sparked by his upbringing on a Lancashire poultry farm. He went on to obtain a BSc in Animal Science at Reading University where he stayed on to achieve a MAgrSc in Tropical Agricultural Development which took him to Costa Rica and Egypt where he managed farms.

A keen sportsman, Richard spends much of his spare time out of doors. He is also a qualified athletics coach, chairman of his local athletics club and was the first person to windsurf 2,000 miles around the British Isles coastline.

Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross

Managing Director, Speciality Nutrition

After a spell in the soft drinks industry, Alistair entered the agricultural industry in 1997, beginning an initial ten-year spell with AB Agri by working on a compound factory weighbridge for a week! He performed a number of vital roles within the business during a period that saw huge changes within the industry and increased public scrutiny, prompted by the UK BSE crisis in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Joining the strategy team of AB Agri’s parent company, Associated British Foods, in 2005, Alistair lived and worked in China for four years, leading the development of a sugar cane business in Guangxi province. He returned to the AB Agri fold in 2014 to take up his current position of Managing Director for Speciality Nutrition.

Simon Heath

Simon Heath

Managing Director, AB Connect

Having joined AB Agri in the early ‘90s as part of the graduate scheme, Simon has a passion for agriculture, stemming from his farming background.

Initially, he occupied 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 Managing Director, overseeing a turnover of £1billion and a workforce of more than 760 people.

Erick Martinez

Erick Martinez

Group Strategy Director, AB Agri

Native Bolivian Erick joined the AB Agri board in 2012, helping to shape the strategic development of both the individual business and the wider group, driving new initiatives and the inorganic growth agenda.

A multilingual MBA graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, his early career incorporated foreign policy formulation at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In 2000, Erick joined the Milan office of Boston Consulting Group, mainly handling international clients and going on to work in a leadership capacity within European multinationals in sectors including logistics, transport and consumer products.

Mark Mladek

Senior Legal Counsel, ABF

Aviation-enthusiast Mark is the primary legal adviser to AB Agri in EMEA.  After studying Law at Oxford University, Mark was an associate at global law firm Allen & Overy before moving to work as an in-house lawyer.  He has spent his career advising companies in industries as diverse as technology, communications, food and alcoholic beverages.  Mark joined Associated British Foods in 2012 and is proud to provide legal advice to all AB Agri’s businesses in EMEA, as well as to some other parts of the ABF Group. 

In his day-to-day work Mark focuses on developing and implementing commercial, customer-friendly solutions for AB Agri’s many businesses.  He also helps support the company as it expands into new products, services and markets, and is closely involved with legal risk-management throughout all AB Agri’s businesses in EMEA.

Alan Murphy

Managing Director, New Ventures

With over 25 years senior management experience, New Ventures Director and board member Alan joined AB Agri in 2007 and currently oversees start up initiatives identified as growth opportunities within the group. He graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 1984 and became a Chartered Engineer in 1989, registered with the Institution of Chemical Engineers and the Engineering Council.

Alan has worked in Australia and handled overseas acquisitions in numerous countries, successfully integrating these operations into the AB Agri and ABF family of businesses. His passion for preserving the bright future of his industry is demonstrated by his status as Chair of Governors for the Rugeley Academies and his previous position as a Trustee of the Creative Education Trust from 2012-15.