Bernard Matthews turkey boss quits

TURKEY Giant Bernard Matthews has announced that its managing director is to leave after just over a year in the job.

Jeff Halliwell is to resign from his post at the Great Witchingham based firm with effect from next Friday in order to pursue other interests, Bernard Matthews Holdings announced.

The post had been left vacant for 18 months after the departure of the previous UK managing director Bart Dalla Mara before Mr Halliwell took on the role in June 2009.

Mr Halliwell has overseen a series of major changes in the business, including its founder Bernard Matthews stepping down from the running of the business earlier this year aged 80.

The proposed loss of 90 jobs, as part of efficiency measures announced in January this year, was cut back to the mid-60s after some staff agreed to move to the firm’s Suffolk site at Holton.

The firm made its first acquisition in 20 years in May when it bought Lincolnshire-based Lincs Turkeys.

More recently, Mr Halliwell oversaw the launch of a �5m television and PR campaign, bringing back the phrase “bootiful” and promoting both Bernard Matthews and the health benefits of turkey.

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This was hot on the heels of the firm recruiting fiery celebrity chef Marco Pierre White as a brand ambassador, a move which attracted media attention of both the firm and chef.

The firm is also two years into a growth strategy and in June posted a return to profit, making �2.4m on a �330m turnover, after recording multi-million pound losses in 2007.

Prior to working at Bernard Matthews, Mr Halliwell was at First Milk Cheese Company, Britain’s largest cheese manufacturer. His career has included spells at Colgate, Palmolive, Mars and Northern Foods.

Bernard Matthews said last night it had initiated a search for a successor.

Noel Bartram, Bernard Matthews’ group chief executive, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Jeff for his contribution to the ongoing recovery programme, which continues to show encouraging results. We wish him all the best for the future.”

The firm said that Mr Halliwell was pleased with the progress the company had made during his tenure. “Bernard Matthews is well-positioned to achieve continuing growth over the next period”, he said in a statement.