New CEO Ian Toal

UK ready meals supplier Oscar Mayer has hired a new leadership team following a change in ownership.

The supplier of chilled ready meals and convenience foods to major supermarkets has brought in industry veterans Ian Toal as CEO and Clive Sharpe as non-executive chairman to drive a turnaround at the lossmaking business.

The Grocer reported last month that Oscar Mayer had been taken over by its institutional lender, Pemberton Asset Management, following a financial restructuring with former majority owner German PE player DBAG ceding control.

Recently filed accounts for the group pointed to “significant margin pressure” as a result of delays in recovering input inflation, noting the operational challenges continued in the 22/23 financial year “taking longer than initially anticipated to restore profitability”.

“The whole sector is facing a number of challenges as we seek to navigate our way through inflationary pressures,” said Toal.

“Nonetheless together, Clive and I are confident in Oscar Mayer’s ability to build on the company’s positive future outlook and very much look forward to working with the whole team to achieve notable success.”

Toal has previously worked at Sysco, Ornua and 2 Sisters Food Group where he was group MD for chilled foods, which included its meals business. For the past seven years he has served as president and CEO respectively, of the food operations for MH Alshaya Group and AlFaisaliah Group in the Middle East.

Sharpe has held CEO and chairman roles across companies including Homepride Foods, Golden Wonder, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Quorn Foods and First Milk Group. He is currently chairman of vitamins group Novomins Nutrition, quick service restaurant player Clean Kitchen Club and Adam Handling Restaurant Group.

Sharpe added: “I’ve known Ian for many years and can attest to his strong management capabilities. Oscar Mayer is undoubtedly in safe hands and I am pleased to play my part in supporting its future achievements.”

Toal will be progressively joining the business throughout June, before becoming full-time from the beginning of July, nominally based at its Erith site.

Sharpe will join the company later this month.

The group’s refinancing, which saw the injection of £55m of equity and waiving of £97m of shareholder loans, has provided committed funding until December 2027.

Oscar Mayer’s most recently filed accounts show operating losses of £10.4m for the year to March 2022, on revenues down almost £20m to £295.8m.