Golden goodbyes for Premier bosses

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The Independent Online

A trio of senior bosses at the Oxo-to-Hovis giant Premier Foods left with a total of £1.4m in extra payments last year, following a management shake-up of the struggling business.

The former chief executive Robert Schofield – who led Premier on a debt-led takeover spree in the run-up to the credit crunch – left with £419,205 in "other" payments on top of his £466,780 salary, the company's annual report showed. The chief operating officer Tim Kelly – eased out by a restructuring last October – and chief financial officer Jim Smart left with payments totalling £1m.

The new chief executive Michael Clarke, who joined from Kraft, picked up £1.94m in extra payments on his appointment in compensation for his previous share options.

Premier's shares, which were down 0.25p to 16.75p yesterday, have virtually halved during the past year and fell as low as 3.3p in December.

The company, which is saddled with nearly £1bn in debt, has recently taken an "impairment charge" of £282m on its bread division, admitting its profitability has declined and may not recover.

Overall sales last year tumbled 10.5 per cent to £1.99bn.