Premier woes grow after its chief takes his leave

Britain's biggest food producer, Premier Foods, faced upheaval at its top table yesterday when its chairman quit after less than two years in the job.

The departure of Ronnie Bell, a former Kraft manager who joined as chairman in October 2010, piles more pressure on the debt-laden company.

The baker of Hovis and maker of Batchelors soup and Oxo stock said Mr Bell had quit with immediate effect. Senior independent director David Beever is to take over until the board finds a successor.

Mr Bell said: "Having set a course to turn the company around, I believe it is an appropriate time to step down."

But although he oversaw the appointment of chief executive Michael Clarke the company is still in turmoil. Mr Clarke is having to deal with the hangover of a spending spree by his predecessor Robert Schofield, who helped make it bloated with debt.

Investec's Martin Deboo said: "The saga continues. Clarke and his team have precious little time to turn around this business."

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