The company’s new chief executive, who took over from Michael Clarke, said Premier was looking to manage its bread and grocery divisions as distinct businesses to help grow them going forward.
As part of an analysts’ meeting this morning, Darby said the company had set up a dedicated team for its bread business, which will be headed up by Bob Spooner, managing director of bread and group supply chain director, and would be bringing together its bread and milling businesses.
In addition, the chief executive revealed Premier would be rolling out new packaging across its Hovis brand which will be launching in the coming weeks.
Darby said: “We have a belief in the Hovis brand. New packaging will make bread stand out on the shelf. Research says this is a significant step and it is rolling out in the next weeks.”
Regarding the bread division, he added: “I am impressed by the scale and urgency of the restructuring of bread, which was partly driven by managing the loss of a contract and has moved us into a more strategic realignment of the supply chain.”
Darby said execution would be key and would be taking place in a challenging environment. He added he would be cranking up the investment in spend behind the company’s bread and grocery brands.
Following restructuring changes made to the bread division at the end of 2012, which included the closure of two UK bakeries and 900 job losses, he explained: “It’s not something we feel good about, but it’s necessary we get our business in balance.”
Darby commented on the decision for Hovis to end its 100% British wheat pledge, and said Premier was rebalancing its wheat sourcing, looking more at supplies from within European, and adding: “The summer of 2013 cannot be as bad as previous ones.”