Rain

Rain

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

UK: Premier Food shares slump on new of chief’s departure

10:53 28 January 2013

Hovis maker Premier Foods has announced the surprise departure of its chief executive

Hovis maker Premier Foods has announced the surprise departure of its chief executive

THE boss of Hovis and Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods has quit just 18 months into a major turnaround of the debt-laden food group, it emerged today.

The departure of Michael Clarke, who joined the company from Kraft Foods in 2011, shocked the City, with Premier’s shares slumping by more than 9% in early trading.

Premier moved swiftly to replace Mr Clarke by announcing the appointment of Gavin Darby, who was the boss of Cable & Wireless Worldwide until its takeover last year. He spent 15 years in senior leadership roles at Coca-Cola before joining Vodafone in 2001.

The company said Mr Clarke, who is leaving in order to pursue other business opportunities, had delivered the initial turnaround of the company and set it on a course for sustainable profitable growth.

However, Clive Black, retail analyst at Shore Capital, said he could not hide his disappointment at Mr Clarke’s departure.

He said: “The remedial work that he undertook to fundamentally allow Premier to survive merits commendation.

“However, that he is going just as the business needs to press on in a new chapter more dependent upon organic growth and trading than structural commercial engineering may be a concern.”

Premier has been struggling under a £1.3billion debt mountain following a spending spree which included Mr Kipling owner RHM, although it now looks to be on the mend after a “landmark” £1.4bn refinancing deal last year.

Mr Clarke’s turnaround plan for the group included the sale of a number of businesses, including its Branston pickle and Haywards picked onions businesses in Bury St Edmunds, to focus on eight “power brands”, including Ambrosia and Bisto.

Premier chairman David Beever said Mr Clarke and his team had done a “first class job” in stabilising the business and generating momentum in a challenging market.

Mr Darby will take the top job from February 4. He said he planned to invest a significant sum in Premier shares and looked forward to developing and growing Premier’s power brands in the coming years.

Last year Mr Clarke called for Britons to support the economic recovery by buying British brands.

Related articles

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

0 comments

The East of England Co-op has put in a planning application to demolish the building as part of a regeneration project.

The East of England Co-op has announced plans to demolish an unused building in Ipswich which will pave the way for more regeneration.

From left, apprentices Bethany Brame, Lydia Lloyd-Potts and  Josephine Brady, Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, Robert Halfon MP and Jo Churchill MP.

Skills minister Robert Halfon MP has praised the commitment of Bury St Edmunds-based pubs and brewing group Greene King to apprenticeships.

Greenpeace has published a list of the UK's top 100 recipients of European Union farming subsidies.

A number of East Anglian estates and farm businesses are among those receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds under the European Union’s Common Agri-cultural Policy (CAP), according to analysis by environmental group Greenpeace.

Alton Towers in Staffordshire, whose owner, Merlin Entertainments, says it has

Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments said today it had “learned every lesson” from last year’s Smiler rollercoaster crash as it revealed that visitor numbers are still being affected.

The Coderus team at Innovation Martlesham

Two technology businesses based at BT’s Adastral Park complex at Martlesham Heath have teamed up to create an innovative security system.

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24