The Business on: Robert Schofield, Chief executive, Premier Foods
Tuesday 25 January 2011
Britain's biggest grocer?
That's not a bad description. Though it has no shops of its own, Premier is the country's largest food manufacturer and owns a string of brands, from Hovis to Branston Pickle.
So what's he up to?
Mr Schofield announced yesterday that Premier is getting rid of one of its best-known brands. Quorn, the company's meat-free food range, is being sold to a private equity consortium for £205m.
That's a lot of money for something so grey and tasteless.
You're being a bit harsh – plenty of people like Quorn. Still, it has not been the most successful of investments for Premier, which is booking a £25m loss on a business it bought six years ago.
So why is it selling?
Well, Premier owes the best part of £1.2bn to creditors, a debt pile it racked up during a supermarket sweep-style acquisitions spree in the early part of Mr Schofield's tenure at the company (he took over in 2002).
Has that come back to haunt him?
Well he's certainly faced somecriticism from shareholders, though it has to be said that he won plaudits during Premier's expansionary years, when investors were urging companies to take on more debt. People have short memories though and the rising cost of commodities plus the credit crunch have rather caught the company out.
More sales to come then?
The company certainly says it is open to the idea of further disposals and it's committed to reducing debt.
And what about the boss?
Mr Schofield's own position seems relatively safe. He has a supportive board and the business, leaving aside its financing issues for a moment, is performing well, partly because its chief executive has been so ruthless on cost cuts and integration.
Is that his background?
He spent eight years with Nestlé in the Far East and has spent his whole career running food businesses.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live - The reunited kingdom: Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
iJobs Money & Business
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...
To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...
Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...