Stefan Barden doesn’t strike you as a man short of confidence.

So he’s unlikely to have been too troubled by the coalition’s planned reforms of jobseekers’ allowance – even when it emerged that his would be the biggest name missing from the new Essenta boardroom.

And rightly so. Today the outgoing Northern Foods boss was confirmed in a new job, just a week after we learned that Greencore chief Patrick Coveney was effectively taking his.

Perhaps more surprising than this impressively quick turnaround is the destination. Or perhaps not.

Barden is off to Brakes, where he’ll concentrate on developing the foodservice giant’s £2bn UK business as the wider group turns its attention overseas for growth.

In this recent look at the deal that created Essenta, Barden was characterised variously as heroic defender of suppliers’ rights and as a risk-taking bruiser who “upset a lot of people”. Certainly the karate-mad former Heinz and Iceland man has some robust ideas about how he does business.

With Brakes continuing to battle annual losses in the tens of millions of pounds, Barden might just be able to offer the sort of strong medicine the company’s private equity owner, Bain Capital, is prescribing.

Today’s news could turn out to represent a lucky break for all concerned.

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