Amid the flurry of new appointments at Tesco (congratulations, in particular, to new UK boss Chris Bush), three significant resignations have been announced this week.
Waitrose insists its retirement of Delia Smith was all very amicable, and gave her a glowing send-off. But there’s bound to be speculation over her departure. It seems doubtful she was pushed exactly, but it’s been apparent for some time she has passed her useful shelf-life, and the obvious sangfroid between straight-laced Delia, 71, and wacky new kid Heston must also have influenced her own decision to back away.
Also unsurprising is former milk Link boss Neil Kennedy’s decision to quit following the merger with Arla, though he insists it’s for personal reasons.
But the most noteworthy is Martin Glenn’s exit at Birds Eye. For the incoming CEO, there is an attractive prospect ahead: the Permira-backed business is generating strong cash and profits, and in a powerful position to oversee future consolidation in the European frozen food sector - likely to involve Findus Group (which Glenn can also be credited with helping to destabilise) - and to benefit, at some stage, from a lucrative exit involving an IPO, or a sale to a trade buyer.
“As the value creation model alters, there will surely be further repercussions, not least at Birds Eye”
Adam Leyland, Editor
But while respecting the decision by Permira to turn down some generous offers for Birds Eye in the summer - as a result of which, Permira would have doubled its money - Glenn clearly didn’t relish five more years in the frozen food tundra.
The fact that Permira is holding out for more is, as Glenn says, a vote of confidence in frozen food but, notwithstanding that it has paid its shareholders a big cash dividend following its autumn refinancing, it also shows how private equity boys have changed, with a clear interest in maximising long-term value, rather than flipping businesses like frozen pancakes and - hey presto - heading into the sunset with their gains.
As the value creation model alters, however - with share options and bonus schemes underwater for many senior industry execs - there will surely be repercussions, not least at Birds Eye, with others surely following suit in Glenn’s wake.