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Premier Foods restructures to help drive innovation with new hires from Reckitt Benckiser and Fox’s Biscuits

Premier Foods has restructured its commercial business and created three new Strategic Business Units (SBUs) to drive innovation, following a promise to double its marketing budget in July and the restructure of its capital business.

The maker of Mr Kipling and Homepride products has also scrapped its commercial director, Ian Deste, and brought on board Reckitt Benckiser’s Alex Whitehouse and Graham Hunter, who has held roles at Fox’s Biscuits and Mars, to drive growth in both the UK and internationally.

The new SBUs will be named Grocery, Sweet Treats and International and each SBU will have full accountability for its respective portfolio and be responsible for directing innovation, marketing, sales, manufacturing and logistics resources.

Whitehouse will lead the new Grocery category as managing director, Hunter will head up Sweet Treats in the same role, while Peter Ellis has been promoted to general manager, International expanding his existing responsibilities for the company’s international sales.

Deste will leave the company after a transition period.

Commenting on the new commercial organisation, Gavin Darby, chief executive of Premier Foods said the changes come as the company looks to “stay ahead of the game” in an increasingly changing landscape.

“Given the major structural changes taking place in the UK grocery market, it is important we stay ahead of the game and refocus our organisation on the most promising growth opportunities and delivering what our customers and consumers want.

“By implementing a focussed and more accountable business unit structure, I believe we will improve our agility and rate of innovation.”

This summer Premier Foods relaunched its Mr Kipling brand of cakes with new packaging sizes, something that head of corporate affairs Richard Johnson told The Drum will follow with other brands in the portfolio amid a sense of “unpredictability and uncertainty” in the grocery business.

“Clearly a structural shift is going on in the market basically driven from changes in shopping behaviour; discount stores and e-commerce, so big grocers are trying to adapt. There is a sense of unpredictability; a sense of uncertainty.

"[E-commerce is an] opportunity for us so we will be looking at the growth areas in the grocery trade, what we can do with that to make sure the brands are positioned in discounters and create different pack sizes and formats for express stores. There are lots of opportunities if you are flexible and this restructure is partly about adapting to that and getting focussed.”

Johnson added that Premier Foods will look to push a marketing drive around its Homepride sauce brand, as its mascot Fred turns 50 later in the year.

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