Northern Foods finance director in shock departure

FOX biscuits maker Northern Foods yesterday stunned the City when it said its finance director Andrew Booker would stand down in December, just under a year after joining the company.<br /><br />The group, which also makes Goodfella&rsquo;s pizzas, said Booker will be replaced by Simon Herrick, a former finance director from electricals firm Kesa.<br /><br />Herrick last week said he would leave Kesa, Europe&rsquo;s third-largest electricals retailer, in the coming months to pursue other business interests. <br /><br />Evolution Securities analyst Alex Sloane yesterday said: &ldquo;We were very surprised by the announcement. We had a meeting recently and were quite impressed.&rdquo; <br /><br />Sloane said&nbsp; Booker could be&nbsp; leaving the firm to join bigger rival Premier Foods after Paul Thomas stepped down from the finance director role last month. <br /><br />Northern Foods&rsquo; shares dropped by 1.17 per cent to 72p after investors were startled by the boardroom reshuffle. Chief executive Stefan Barden yesterday tried to soothe shareholders by reiterating that the group &ldquo;continues to trade in line with market expectations&rdquo;. <br /><br />Booker was previously European finance director with Gallaher, the cigarette maker that was taken over by Japan Tobacco in a deal worth $19bn (&pound;11.7bn) in 2006. <br /><br />Herrick was appointed finance director of Kesa Electricals in 2005. He trained as an accountant with Price Waterhousecoopers before working for Alcatel Alsthom and PepsiCo.<br />