Warburg-backed Premier Foods loses second senior exec in a week


Geoff Eaton Premier FoodsWarburg Pincus-backed Premier Foods has lost its second executive in a week after new CEO Gavin Darby axed the UK company’s chief operating officer role.

Geoff Eaton, pictured, has had his job scrapped by Darby on the CEO’s first day as he implements a “flatter executive management structure”.

He will step down from the board with immediate effect, according to a statement from the company.

Eaton, who was hired by Darby’s predecessor Michael Clarke, had only been in the role for three months.

Clarke stepped down last week after 18 months as CEO spent attempting to turn around the debt-laden company.

He told the board he was considering moving on to other opportunities having delivered the initial turnaround and set a course for future sustainable growth.

Premier announced Clarke had agreed to remain available to the business until mid-2013 to ensure an orderly handover to Darby.

Warburg spent £99m on a 15.71 per cent into the business in March 2009, returning to up its stake by two per cent in August the same year.

Premier, which controls famous brands such as Hovis bread, Mr Kipling cakes and the Bisto and Oxo gravies, has a current market cap of about £233m and almost four times as much debt.

In recent months the company has sold its Sun Pat and Hartley’s Jam spread businesses and Branston Pickle brand and is planning to axe 900 jobs from its bread division.

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