St Ivel desserts boss Paul Bates has been appointed chief executive of the Serious Food Company.

The news comes in the week the company announced it was relaunching its entire desserts and juices businesses and forecast sales growth of nearly 10% to £95m.

Bates has spent the past 14 years at Uniq, where he most recently held the managing director role at its St Ivel desserts business. Having taken up the position in 2005, Bates was credited with reversing the fortunes of the division, which had been losing £16m a year, through improving efficiency and staffing programmes.

Bates will join Serious this summer, replacing interim MD Vince Price, who will become operations manager. Price has held the temporary role since Andrew Lord resigned last October.

Jeffrey Walker, chief executive of the Serious Food Company's parent company Jamaica Producers Group, said Bates' expertise in chilled foods would benefit the company's relaunch programme.

"Paul's record in building long-term relationships with customers and suppliers in the chilled industry will help us drive growth and efficiency."

The company, which set up in South Wales 18 years ago, was formerly known as Sunjuice. In 2005, it was forced to shut down for several days and recall 180,000 products after a syringe was found in a carton of Sainsbury's own-label orange juice it had supplied.

It invested almost £1m in state-of-the-art technology to ensure it would not happen again.

Products p54