Premier splits bread into a separate unit

Kasmira Jefford
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PREMIER FOODS said yesterday it had hired Geoff Eaton, the former boss of puddings manufacturer Uniq, as its new chief operating officer while also announcing a further shake-up of its business.

Eaton, who left Uniq after it was taken over by Greencore, will replace Tim Kelly, who left the company following a management reshuffle last October.

The group yesterday said Eaton would oversee new plans to split its grocery and bread business into two divisions.

Martin Deboo, an analyst at Investec, praised Eaton’s industry experience but said Premier was “not short of senior managers” and questioned its need to appoint another “in a cost-constrained environment”.

He added: “Premier appear to be acknowledging that bread is a fundamentally challenged business that needs dedicated focus.”

Premier ran up large debts after buying RHM and Campbell Soups’ UK and Irish business in 2006 and has been steadily selling off assets.