Charles Noble Samworth Brothers CFO

Charles Noble will join Samworth as CFO on 2 January

Food group Samworth Brothers has appointed Charles Noble as chief financial officer to take over from Steve Bailey when he retires at the end of the year.

Noble will take up the position, as well as taking a seat on the executive board, on 2 January, with a brief to continue the modernisation of the group.

Currently CFO at AB Sugar, Associated British Foods’ sugar operation, Noble has worked in and out of the food industry for the past 24 years, starting in the Unilever graduate training programme in 1999.

He has spent almost four years in CFO and finance director roles at US spices group McCormick and had an earlier four-year spell at ABF, including as director of finance at Allied Bakeries. Outside the fmcg industry, Noble has also worked for US freight railroad owner Genesee & Wyoming and the British Airports Authority.

Bailey has been CFO at Samworth for five years and the group said he helped “steer and grow the business effectively through recent unpredictable trading conditions”.

CEO Hugo Mahoney said: “With his own sense of humour and personable style, Steve moved us strongly forward in areas such as forecasting and planning, cash management, risk and commercial analysis, as well as providing leadership to IT and other support teams.

“We will be sorry to see him go, and he leaves with our very best wishes for the future.”

The statement added the group remained “resilient” and that trading and results had continued to progress during 2023 “to the point where the business has never been stronger or more active than it is today”.

The appointment follows Samworth Brothers filing Companies House accounts for the year ended 31 December 2022, showing a 21% increase in revenues to £1.4bn as the group passed on input cost inflation to customers.

The topline also benefited from a recovery of food-to-go following a hit taken during the pandemic and the acquisition of sandwich maker Freshways during the year.

It helped Samworth boost pre-tax profits by 21% to £20.5m despite a number of challenges, including a squeeze on margins as it absorbed some inflation and the cost of living crisis weighing on consumer spending.

The group said it was “optimistic” about further growth in 2023.

A spokeswoman said: “The food industry saw significant cost increases throughout 2022.

“We worked hard to mitigate the impact of inflation through dialogue with customers, price recovery mechanisms, operating efficiencies and collaboration with suppliers.

“Despite this backdrop, the business remained resilient. Trading conditions remain tough in 2023 with further cost inflation and consumers impacted by a difficult cost of living crisis. However, the business continues to progress strongly and is committed to significant capital investment for expansion over the next two or three years.”

The accounts also showed Samworth expected to take a £5m hit for 2023 linked to the consultation process at Revolution Kitchen as the group explores exiting the plant-based category after suffering a downturn in demand.