In a bid to improve growth and cut costs, it is creating a branded division, headed by former Fox's MD Graham Hunter, that will oversee its Goodfella's, McDougalls and Holland's, Fox's and Matthew Walker brands. Sandwiches and salads join ready meals in a new chilled division under Kuldip Kular, previously MD of sandwiches, salads and chilled pizza.
MDs of the former divisions will report to the new heads as part of the restructure, which will cost the group up to £6m and could lead to job cuts, although the company would not be drawn on how many.
"We've done a lot of work sorting out which factories are viable," CEO Stefan Barden told The Grocer. "The restructure will focus on the 500 senior managers who sit at the top of the organisation and connect the sites."
The restructure was not being carried out with a view to selling off poor-performing brands, he insisted. "We're not looking to divest, we've always got an eye on acquisitions and we're focused on a strong trading position," he said.
The shake-up was unveiled as Northern reported 3% growth in sales for the six months to 2 October. Like-for-like sales in its chilled division were up 15.3%, with bakery up 3.3% and the Christmas order book for Matthew Walker puddings "good".
Northern's Q1 frozen sales decline shrank from 24.9% to 16.2% in Q2. Barden said frozen could benefit from a slight double dip, which he expected to see in the next nine months.