Former Premier Foods group sales director Ian York has joined high street discounter Poundstretcher as managing director.

York has more than 20 years’ experience of sales, marketing and operations in fmcg. After various jobs with Quaker Oats, Associated British Foods and Blue Crest, York spent 17 years in a number of sales roles at Premier Foods, rising to sales director.

He left the food giant in 2011 to go into consultancy, then became sales director at Symington’s in March 2013.

Speaking to The Grocer, York said Poundstretcher, which has more than 400 stores, was “an incredible growth opportunity” with “a good store base.”

Like-for-likes at the most recent half-year were up 6%, he added. “A lot of people around the country would like those sort of numbers.”

The discounter has opened 78 non-standalone Pet Huts within the past 12 months – a format York said was now the second biggest specialist UK petfood operation after Pets at Home.

York’s appointment at Poundstretcher will spark speculation the variety discounter will place a bigger emphasis on food in the future.

“Our strategy is to drive fmcg. Traditionally, Poundstretcher has been a general merchandise business,” York said.

Fmcg was driving footfall with “great brands at great prices,” he added. The focus on fmcg was “hugely” important but so was general merchandise and seasonal. There was no “short-term” plan to go into frozen and chilled food, he stressed. “We will focus on ambient.”

Poundstretcher reported like-for-like sales growth of 3% in the year to 31 March 2014. In July this year, it revealed plans to open 200 stores over the next four years, creating more than 4,000 jobs. It plans to cut prices further to take on the supermarkets.