Source: Planet Organic

Planet Organic is set to return to profit next year, said founder Renée Elliott

Planet Organic has appointed a new MD as founder Renée Elliott targets a return to profit next year.

Mark Broomfield will officially join on 13 May, from the high-end grocer Bayley & Sage. His appointment is Planet’s first major executive appointment since Elliott rescued the business she founded out of administration in April 2023.

Broomfield is a familiar face at Planet, having spent a short spell leading the retailer’s buying function in 1999 and 2000. He then left to join Sainsbury’s and spent 12 years in senior buying roles, before moving into wholesale as buying controller at Brakes-owned Country Choice.

He had been commercial director at London-based Bayley & Sage since January 2021.

“We’re delighted to have Mark back at Planet Organic, returning after a great career honing his skills and experience,” Elliott told The Grocer.

Broomfield will take over a share of the day-to-day management of Planet from Elliott, who has been balancing leadership of the business with her commitments as a business and personal development coach.

His immediate priority would be to deliver the “vision and plan” for the remainder of the financial year, which started in September, and work with the board to agree and oversee the turnaround strategy.

Turnaround plan making progress

Planet Organic MD

Mark Broomfield will officially join Planet organic on 13 May

Broomfield’s appointment comes a year to the week since Elliott returned to the business, after leading a deal to save it from administration.

The previous management team, including CEO George Dymond, all left the business following the deal, which also saw four stores and a warehouse close.

As part of the ongoing turnaround plan, Planet has reviewed its entire range, with an explicit focus once again on organic products.

In an appearance at The Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham on Tuesday, Elliott revealed that the chain looked set to return to profitability during the next financial year, which begins in September.

“We’ve taken the business from the brink of collapse to stability, and we’re looking at profitability in the next year,” Elliott said, adding it was a “very quick” turnaround for a business coming out of administration.

“We’ve gone back to organic, we have a programme of cleaning up and replacing equipment in stores, we’re going back to better customer service and moving more deeply into our communities, and creating those relationships again.”

Planet closed another store in Balham in September after failing to agree a lease with landlord Iceland, leaving the chain with nine stores, all based in London.

Despite the positive progress, Elliott ruled out the immediate prospect of new store openings or major new launches, adding that the business still needed at least another six months of “polishing”.

“We’re not short of ideas, we’re just not committing to anything,” Elliott said.

“We’re looking at every process, everything we do and saying ‘is this good enough?’, do we still do this?,” Elliott said. “It’s a chance to re-examine everything, it’s a really fresh start.”