Premier Foods has appointed former Uniq boss Geoff Eaton as its new chief operating officer, announcing at the same time an overhauled corporate structure.
Eaton replaces Tim Kelly, who left the company following a management reshuffle last October. Premier said Eaton would have a wider remit than Kelly had been given, styling his arrival as an injection of new blood into the business.
He will also be an executive director, reporting to chief executive Michael Clarke, and will help oversee the company’s plans to divide into two distinct divisions – grocery and bread – in a bid to become “more focused and profitable”.
The grocery arm would be to continue to build momentum behind its branded portfolio, which represents 86% of the new division’s sales, a company statement said. Bread, meanwhile, would take “a more fundamental approach” to address category challenges.
“The company will, however, continue to preserve appropriate benefits of scale between the two divisions wherever they exist,” Premier said in a statement. It expects to deliver further overhead cost reductions next year – above the £40m delivered by the end of this year – as it separates recently divested businesses.
Eaton spent six years at Uniq, helping to pull the company back from the brink by offloading 90% of its shares to its pension fund to overcome a £436m deficit. The company was then sold to Greencore for £113m.
Eaton was previously CEO of Isis Research, a market research agency serving the pharmaceutical industry, and spent 13 years building Tomkins, an international industrial conglomerate. He also had a stint working for the commercial crime bureau of the Hong Kong police.
“As we accelerate the next stage of our transformation, Geoff’s energy and experience will be critical in helping us unlock value in bread and build further momentum in our grocery division,” said Clarke.