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Hovis boss quits amid Premier Foods’ uphill bread struggle

By Kacey Culliney , 30-Nov-2012

Hovis MD quits
Hovis MD quits

The managing director of Premier Foods’ bakery arm tasked with driving the struggling bread business forward has resigned and will leave the firm early 2013.

Iwan Williams’ resignation comes at a time when Premier Foods is desperately trying to invest in its bakery business and in particular its Hovis brand as it struggles to overcome hefty debts and surface from profit losses.

A company spokesperson told BakeryandSnacks.com that Williams had advised Premier Foods “a while ago” of his intention to leave and pursue other business opportunities.

Williams joined the firm just one year ago to head up driving the struggling bread business forward.

The spokesperson said there are no plans to replace his MD role directly but that it would be absorbed in the restructuring; as Premier works to continue its grocery and bakery split.

In the meantime, he said, the resignation would not impede business.

Premier upheaval

At the beginning of October, Premier Foods announced the split of its grocery and bakery division to enable a more dedicated focus on its bread business. It appointed a new chief operating officer, Geoff Eaton, to head up the split – an appointment that Sky News reports may have prompted Williams' departure.

Just ten days ago the firm shut two bakery sites and removed 130 distribution routes at a cost of £28m ($44.9m) in a bit to consolidate and drive operational efficiency. It also let go of its retail contract with the Co-op in October that was later snapped up by rival Allied Bakeries, owner of Kingsmill.

Premier is investing in lowering its cost base and driving efficiency amid the ‘challenging’ UK bread industry.

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