Premier Foods chief executive Gavin Darby has paid tribute to commercial director Ian Deste ahead of his exit from the business following a structural shake-up.

Deste’s role has become redundant as a result of Premier’s reorganisation into three distinct business units - sweet treats, grocery and international.

Darby said Deste had done a “fantastic job” in driving the supplier’s transformation of its category growth strategies, revenue management and strengthening its key customer relationships.

“He is seen in the industry as one of the commercial leaders who best understands these changing times,” said Darby. “Although we concluded that his job will become redundant, he has been a huge architect of our new approach to category management and I am very keen that he is with us to help deliver a strong Christmas period and ensure these top relationships are handed over carefully.”

Deste said Premier was moving from a period of “turnaround” into a “transformational” phase. “I shall be sad to leave Premier. However I passionately believe Premier is now a much stronger business,” he said. “Moving forward now into the transformational phase, it is appropriate that resources are structured and focused more directly against the strategic opportunities identified.”

He referenced the “considerable progress” Premier had made during his three years at the company in re-building, commercial capabilities, brand portfolio, and relationships with key customers in the UK and internationally.

Deste previously spent 20 years at Coca-Cola Enterprises.

As part of the changes, Alex Whitehouse will become MD, grocery, after joining the business from Reckitt Benckiser in July, while Graham Hunter, most recently CEO of Tangerine confectionery, has been appointed as MD of the sweet treats division.

Peter Ellis has been appointed general manager, international, expanding his existing responsibilities for international sales.

Explaining the restructure, Darby commented: “Given the major structural changes taking place in the UK grocery market, it is important we stay ahead of the game and re-focus our organisation on the most promising growth opportunities and delivering what our customers and consumers want.”