Brian Carlton

Carlton helped Premier with several acquisitions

Premier Foods group HR director Brian Carlton has left after 20 years with the business.

Carlton - who stepped down last week - will be replaced on an interim basis by David Wilkinson, currently HR director for Premier’s commercial functions. Premier is seeking a permanent replacement.

Sources said Premier CEO Gavin Darby wanted to take “a fresh approach to people” as it transitions into a new era following the recent refinancing and sale of a majority stake in Hovis. They said Darby was looking to build an “entrepreneurial, performance-based culture”.

Carlton joined Premier in 1994 as head of personnel for the canned foods division and was appointed to the group executive in 2006. He helped Premier navigate several major acquisitions including Campbell in 2006 and RHM in 2007.

More recently, he has played an important role in streamlining the company and restructuring in the wake of divestments of brands such as Sarson’s, Crosse & Blackwell and Hartley’s.

Before joining Premier Foods, he worked in HR and operational roles at companies including Chrysler UK, K Shoes and Smurfit Packaging.

Premier is due to publish first-quarter trading figures next week. It has already indicated sales of its power brands would be slightly negative because of the warmer weather and late Easter.

In an investor note this week, Shore Capital reiterated a ‘buy’ rating and said, following the refinancing, management had for the first time in years the chance to focus on driving growth.