Hovis has appointed its first innovation director to lead the business’s NPD programme.

Sharon Barraclough has joined from Telefonica UK, where she was head of brand and marketing strategy and was responsible for developing a new UK brand strategy for O2.

She has also held positions such as European brand director for Western Europe at Mars Chocolate. She was head of marketing at Manor Bakeries - part of former Hovis owner Premier Foods - where she developed and implemented long-term growth strategies and NPD pipelines.

Barraclough is joining as price competition drives down the value of standard bread, and following the failure of Hovis’s 2014 launch Taste Sensations, which lasted less than a year.

“Innovation is absolutely critical to Hovis and forms an integral part to our growth strategy,” said Hovis executive chairman Nish Kankiwala. “Sharon’s wealth of experiences in delivering ambitious and innovative business and marketing strategies will assist Hovis in continuing to lead the bread market.”

The business recently appointed former Lindt & Sprüngli grocery unit controller Tim Stoller as convenience director, and is continuing to seek a CEO and CFO following the departures of Bob Spooner and Michael Kennedy. Hovis this week said recruitment was “progressing well”.

Hovis business unit controller Chris Jones has left the baker to join Jeyes Group as channel controller for the convenience, discount and ­specialist channels.