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The Grocer has two exclusive stories this morning on a management restructure at food-to-go giant Adelie and on the acquisition of its former target Freshpak, which has been snapped up by a private equity firm.

Adelie, which supplies convenience stores with the Urban Eat brand and retailers and national coffee shop chain with own label sandwiches, has appointed a new chief executive to refocus the business after the loss of a Sainsbury’s and challenging trading conditions slowed down its rapid growth.

Owner HIG Capital, which bought the group in March last year, has replaced former boss Gavin Cox with Martin Johnson, who joined Adelie in September 2015 as chief operating officer with a view to eventually taking the reins. Chairman Per Harkjaer, a food industry veteran and former Findus Group CEO, has also left the business.

Johnson talks to The Grocer in an exclusive interview about the challenges and opportunities at the group.

In separate news sandwich filling manufacturer Freshpak Chilled Foods has been snapped up by a US private equity firm after takeover talks with Adelie broke down.

Sun Capital Partners has completed the deal after it looked to have lost out to Adelie, which had agreed exclusivity to buy Freshpak in November last year, as reported by The Grocer at the time.

It emerged in January that the transaction, which had been agreed in principle, had been thrown into doubt as a result of technical problems.

Visit thegrocer.co.uk/finance/ later this morning for the full story on both.

Morning update

Elsewhere on The Grocer today is news that Aunt Bessie’s owner William Jackson Food Group has moved into healthy snacking with the acquisition of The Food Doctor for an undisclosed sum. Read the full story here.

Historic confectionery maker Bonds of London has also been bought by a wholesaler of US food brands, Innovative Bites. Combined turnover is expected to exceed £50m this year. To read more click here.

Brexit could be “disaster” for struggling UK exporters, despite the boost from a weakened pound, according to insolvency firm Begbies Traynor. About 21,000 UK manufacturers which rely heavily on exports could be tipped over the edge if Britain votes to leave the EU in the 23 June referendum, the firm warned this morning. Despite UK exporters experiencing a boost in recent weeks thanks to the ongoing sterling weakness, the UK’s largest exporting industries continue to suffer from rising levels of financial distress which didn’t bode well for the sector in the event of a potential Brexit, Begbies said.

The firm’s ‘Red Flag Alert’ research for the first quarter of 2016, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, reveals that 21,061 UK manufacturers, many of which rely heavily on exporting, ended the period in a state of ‘significant’ financial distress – 20% higher than the equivalent period last year. Of the UK manufacturing sectors covered by the research, the number of food and beverages producers experiencing ‘significant’ distress rose the fastest, at 29%, followed by a 21% increase in the broader manufacturing sector and a 17% increase in the automotive sector.

Begbies partner Julie Palmer said: “Our data shows that the UK’s exporting industries are already under significant financial pressure and can ill afford any potential risk to the 50 percent of British exports that go into the EU. The Red Flag manufacturing figures show that the threat of uncertainty surrounding the referendum has already put the brakes on this segment of the economy, which should be accelerating with the benefit of recent sterling weakness, with many UK firms adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach to any change to the UK’s relationship with the EU. Considering the current struggles that the UK manufacturing industries are facing, as seen most starkly in the steel industry recently, and the significant potential impact of a Brexit vote, it is crucial that firms make contingency plans for either outcome of the referendum to avoid further deterioration in their financial health.”

PureCircle (PURE), the listed stevia producer, has announced that Mirabaud Securities is no longer retained as broker to the company. Liberum Capital and Macquarie Capital will continue to act as brokers to the business.

Stock Spirits Group, the listed Central and Eastern branded spirits producer, has appointed Marek Sypek as managing director of Poland with effect from June 2016. He joins from Agros-Nova Holding, one of Poland’s largest producers of drinks, jams and preserved vegetable products, where he was CEO. Sypek was previously with Johnson & Johnson, the US consumer healthcare business, where he was managing director of Central & Eastern Europe.

Yesterday in the City

Poundland (PLND) had another tough day after revealing poor trading in the final quarter of the year as the business struggled to integrate the 250 stores acquired from 99p Stores. The share price, which has plummeted more than 30% so far in 2016, fell 3.4% today to 142.4p – way below the 300p float price from March 2014.

Unilever (ULVR) in contrast rose 0.6% to 3284.5p as it reported underlying sales growth of 4.7% in the first quarter, with emerging markets up 8.3%. Underlying volume growth at the consumer goods group rose 2.6% and pricing was up 2% in the quarter.

Nestlé (NESN) also has a good day with shares finishing up 2% at CHF 72.60 after the Swiss group reiterated its full-year outlook after first-quarter underlying sales growth beat expectations.

PZ Cussons (PZC) slipped 1.9% to 312.00p following a trading update for the period 27 January 2016 to 13 April 2016 in which it said overall performance was in line with expectations with performance in Europe and Asia offsetting more difficult trading conditions in Africa.

Tesco (TSCO) fell again 1.8% to 177.62 after tumbling more than 7% on Wednesday as the City reacted to the retailer’s cautious outlook on future profits.

Premier Food (PFD) stayed steady to close at 42.2p after the huge 25% slump after McCormick walked away from its takeover bid.

The sell-off at Cranswick (CWK) continued as investors continue to take advantage of the 17% surge following news of the £40m acquisition of Crown Chicken on Monday. Share closed 3% down at 2,352p.