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Source: Pilgrim’s UK 

The JBS-owned businesses are in the process of an integration under the Pilgrim’s Europe banner 

At least 10 senior executives have now left Pilgrim’s Pride UK’s three main businesses following what one whistleblower described earlier this year as a “brutal” restructure of the top teams running the protein giant.

The Grocer reported in January that the creation of a new executive team of 15 for the nascent Pilgrim’s Europe operation – designed to drive the integration of Moy Park, Pilgrim’s UK and Pilgrim’s Food Masters – was set to lead to a widespread cull of senior executives at the JBS-owned businesses.

Senior departures from within the three businesses since the start of the restructure include Moy Park CEO Chris Kirke, whose departure from the poultry giant was confirmed in Companies House filings at the start of March.

Others to have left as part of the process (confirmed via their LinkedIn profiles), include Pilgrim’s UK chief commercial officer Rachel Griffiths, who departed the business in February.

Pilgrim’s UK HR director Matthew Collington left in the same month, while the processor’s VP of HR Rachel Baldwin moved on in January.

LinkedIn posts also show former Pilgrim’s Food Masters MD of meals Ian Garrett left in March, as did the supplier’s MD of UK brands Sue McVie, while Pilgrim’s UK group technical director Mike Wijnberg also left last month.

The Grocer understands at least three further senior executives have left the Pilgrim’s businesses since the start of the restructure – but are yet to update their LinkedIn profiles.

A handful of other executives, such as former Pilgrim’s Food Masters CEO Nick Robinson, have taken on different roles – in Robinson’s case as the new Pilgrim’s Europe operation’s chief commercial officer.

Read more: Pilgrim’s Pride brings in ‘boys from Brazil’ for ‘brutal’ £4.2bn restructure

Pilgrim’s UK declined to comment on the departures when approached by The Grocer this week, though a spokeswoman said last month that the restructure was “ongoing”.

The departures followed concerns, reported by The Grocer in January, that a number of experienced executives felt they had effectively been cast aside following the announcement of the restructure.

A source said the new integrated structure, which would create the UK’s largest food business, with sales in excess of £4.2bn a year, had been announced to the three business unit senior teams “without consultation or process”.

People who were set to lose their jobs had “received no communication, other than they will not be in the new structure”, they added.

This characterisation of events was reinforced by a second source, who recently told The Grocer the restructure “has not been managed in the best way”, which could ultimately create “short-term harm” to the businesses, allowing competitors to gain an advantage due to the restructure being “a big distraction”.

“A lot of people don’t know if they’ve got a job, things were announced, and they find out when they’re not included,” they added.

At the time of The Grocer’s initial January story, Pilgrim’s stressed there would be no changes to the structure of the three business units while the new executive team scoped out new operational models for an integrated operation.

“We have great people, great products, great brands and great businesses, and as Pilgrim’s Europe we come together to form the biggest food business in the UK offering unrivalled capabilities, skills and services,” said Pilgrim’s Europe president Ivan Siqueira at the time.

“This team will be instrumental in driving greater collaboration, integration and synergies across our businesses and will work closely with our individual teams and businesses to set our future operating model.”

It comes as Pilgrim’s Food Masters announced plans last month to close its Dean Way factory in Southall, west London, with up to 260 jobs at risk.