Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Barr era ends at Irn Bru company

AG Barr products
Irn Bru. "Scotland's National Drink", is AG Barr's most famous beverage

The last member of the family dynasty that founded Irn-Bru maker AG Barr 134 years ago is to step down.

Robin Barr, 71, is to end his 31-year tenure as chairman paving the way for a non-family chief for the first time in the Cumbernauld-based firm's history.

He will be replaced as non-executive chairman Ronnie Hanna in May.

The fortunes of the firm, which began life as a cork-cutting enterprise in 1875, blossomed when Andrew Barr, from Falkirk, created "Iron Brew" in 1901.

The drink became Irn Bru in 1947 due to new food labelling regulations.

Mr Barr's departure marks the end of a line of family chairmanships that stretch back to the company's inception.

'Right time'

During his tenure, Irn-Bru has been described as "Scotland's national drink", with its own orange and blue tartan officially accredited by the Council of the Scottish Tartans Society in 1997.

Mr Barr, who joined the firm when his father Robert was at the helm in 1960, has also presided over a period of diversification, adding the fruit juice range Rubicon to its portfolio, which also includes St Clements and Tizer.

He will remain on the board of the company in a non-executive role and will retain his 6.4% shareholding.

Mr Barr said: "Now is the right time for me to step down as chairman after 31 years in the role - the business is in excellent shape with a strong and stable executive team.

"I have great confidence in handing over to Ronnie Hanna who will provide the leadership, experience and drive to maintain the positive momentum in the business despite the current difficult economic times."

The company currently employs about 900 people at its sites in Atherton, Mansfield and Pitcox near Edinburgh.

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