Private equity-backed fmcg companies are struggling to attract and retain good quality people because of fears for long-term development prospects and job security, says a leading recruitment consultancy. Filling job vacancies within the £40k to £80k salary bracket has become a major issue because of the negative perceptions candidates associate with private equity, according to The Simmance Partnership. And there was no financial sweetener for middle management to set private equity jobs apart from plcs as the big cash incentives were for senior management and boardroom executives only. "Private equity and venture capital has become a major disruption in the world of food and drink, which is good as the industry has been in need of a shake-up," said Steve Simmance, founder of The Simmance Partnership. "But what private equity has failed to grasp is that this industry is driven by people. At the moment, candidates are saying 'why should I come and sweat myself to death, just for you to sell the business in three years, take your money and leave me with nothing?" The current market favoured job seekers and candidates were choosing companies that had a good record of developing people, such as Associated British Foods, PepsiCo and Diageo, he said. Whereas, private equity-owned companies viewed this as a "cost", not an "investment". "There is already a war for talent in this industry. Private equity is short-term and needs results, so it must invest more in people to attract the best talent." Richard Ash from Nigel Wright consultancy added: "Private equity does have some bearing on career choices - we see this at middle management level where there is more reluctance to take risk than senior level managers, who are more financially secure."