Top boss leaves Bernard Matthews

TROUBLED East Anglian turkey producer Bernard Matthews confirmed yesterday that its chief executive had left the company.

TROUBLED East Anglian turkey producer Bernard Matthews confirmed yesterday that its chief executive had left the company.

Bart Dalla Mura had been tasked with boosting the fortunes of the Norfolk-based firm which in recent months has been hit by a bird flu outbreak at one of its sites in Suffolk, allegations of cruelty and a row

over the fat content of Turkey Twizzlers.

Yesterday, however, a Bernard Matthews spokeswoman said: “Bernard Matthews can confirm the UK chief executive officer, Bart Dalla Mura, has left the company.

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“We wish to thank him for his contribution to the business and we wish him well for the future.”

The spokeswoman refused to discuss whether Mr Dalla Mura resigned or was fired.

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In recent months Mr Dalla Mura has been the public face of the business, appearing in dozens of television, radio and newspaper interviews.

But he appears to have paid the price for the failure of Bernard Matthews to recover from the toughest period in its 50-plus year history.

The move brings yet more uncertainty to the future direction of the company. In recent months company chairman and owner Bernard Matthews has not been involved in the day-to-day running of the business, saying earlier this year in an interview that he left that to his “strong management team”.

However, sales of Bernard Matthews products slumped following the outbreak of bird flu at the company's Holton farm in February and the subsequent inquiry.

During the crisis, Mr Dalla Mura was promoted from his role as commercial director to the post of UK chief executive, and tasked with reviving the business, which employs 3,500 people across East Anglia.

Over the past year he has developed the company's strategy in the UK, including its recent “turkey for today” television commercials and its attempts to win back the trust of consumers.

However, sales have been slow to recover, with the company's hugely successful cooked meats business still underperforming. At the same time the company, in common with other producers, is facing higher feed costs because of soaring wheat prices.

Mr Dalla Mura joined Bernard Matthews in July last year as commercial director to co-ordinate the company's sales and marketing operations.

He was previously commercial director at Allied Bakeries, whose brands include Kingsmill, and he previously worked for a number of blue-chip businesses including Nestlé and Unilever.

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