Chris Thompson has been replaced by Ian Croxford as chief executive of troubled cake manufacturer Inter Link Foods after only five months in the job.

The change comes four months after chairman and founder Alwin Thompson's resignation due to ill health. Prior to his departure he had warned that the company faced a testing six months after it posted a 47.8% fall in half-year pre-tax profits in January.

The company also has debts of £20m and analysts believe its struggles are partly down to its predominantly own-label portfolio, though its bestseller is Soreen malt loaf.

"Chris Thompson had a huge weight on his shoulders, but his contribution to the company was significant," said Jeremy Hamer, chairman of Inter Link Foods. "Both Chris and ourselves agreed it was time for a change. He will stay with us for a few months to work with Ian Croxford - continuity at this time is vital."

Croxford, who was recruited from Premier Foods where he was group operations director, had a difficult task ahead of him, said one analyst. One option for Inter Link was to sell off its most successful brand, he suggested. "Soreen is a real gem. Inter Link has been in trouble for a while, and Soreen is a sales opportunity to generate cash."

Hamer was quick to dispel talk of selling off the brand. "Soreen is an integral part of our business. Rumours are strong but facts are weak," he said. But he accepted that the business faced challenges.

"We have to make sure we get the right returns," said Hamer. "We will be looking at our margins and in-house efficiency. In this situation you can raise money by selling something - though we don't plan to at the moment.

"Times are hard and rumours are rife, but Inter Link is doing all it can to deliver good products."