Mr Sunderland, 50, was the front runner for the job and regarded as "a safe pair of hands" in the City. It is thought that the other leading internal candidate was John Brock, managing director of the beverages business. However, he joined the board only earlier this year and a promotion to the top job was considered too rapid.
Mr Sunderland is a career Cadbury employee who joined the company 28 years ago. He has since worked in the confectionery and soft drinks sides of the business in South Africa and Ireland. He also helped launch the Coca Cola Schweppes joint venture in 1987 and worked on the acquisitions of the Trebor and Bassett confectionery businesses. He joined the board in 1993. "He's a good all-rounder," a spokesman said.
Several senior management appointments will follow Mr Sunderland's elevation. The group is still bedding in its Dr Pepper acquisition in the US. Last month it announced it was selling its 51 per cent stake in the cola soft drinks venture.Reuse content