Premier Foods has named Kraft Foods European president Mike Clarke as the successor to outgoing chief executive Robert Schofield.

Clarke – described by Premier as “one of the most senior executives in the European food industry” – will begin in his new role on 1 September.

Prior to joining Kraft in 2009 he was president of Coca-Cola for Northwest Europe, including the UK. Having started his career as a chartered accountant in South Africa with Deloitte, he also worked for sportswear giant Reebok.

“[Clarke] brings with him a wealth of strategic brand experience, combined with a strong financial and operational background,” said Premier chairman Ronnie Bell.

Clarke’s role at Kraft is being taken by Timothy Cofer, who led Kraft’s global integration team when it took over Cadbury last year. Cofer is currently senior vice president of the company’s global chocolate category team.

Premier had been urged by investors to find a successor to Schofield as quickly as possible, following the announcement in April that he was to retire.

Two weeks ago the Hovis and Sharwood’s owner issued a profits warning following an investigation by The Grocer into a pricing dispute with Tesco. The dispute resulted in a quarter of 25% of Premier’s lines being temporarily removed from the supermarket’s shelves.

Read more
Birds Eye boss Glenn ‘turns down Premier top job’ (5 July 2011)
Editor's Comment: Tesco has run rings round Premier’s flabby conglomerate strategy (2 July 2011)
Exit Schofield: now the City awaits a recovery strategy (analysis; 7 May 2011)