Hynes takes reins at Hazlewood

GREENCORE Group has announced a major shake-up of its British management at the former Hazlewood Group.

Tony Hynes has been appointed to lead the newly-named Convenience Food division that sees the chilled division merged with the ambient and frozen operations.

As a result of the change at the top of the British operations, Anne Truelove and Gerry Smith, respective bosses of Greencore Chilled Foods and Greencore Ambient and Frozen, are quitting their posts.

The move failed to grab the markets and the shares fell 5c on opening to €2.83 in Dublin yesterday morning.

"There are clear benefits to further integrating the business and unifying the leadership of all of our convenience food activities," said David Dilger, chief executive, Greencore Group.

The move creates a single senior point of contact for customers and a more focused business structure across the businesses, he said.

"Tony Hynes's energy and enthusiasm, coupled with his disciplined approach and extensive experience in convenience food, make him the ideal candidate for this role," Mr Dilger said.

It was regrettable the existing senior executives in the respective companies were leaving the group, he said.

Job cuts are not the major issue, Mr Dilger said yesterday, despite reports that Northern Foods is to axe up to 1,000 workers in a market that continues to be very competitive.

Mr Hynes's job will be to bring a Greencore ethos to the British operations, Mr Dilger said.

Hazlewood is hugely significant for the group and has to be brought to the highest operational standards, he said.

"Tony Hynes is the man to do that job," he added.

"Mr Hynes will be moving with his family to Britain where he will give himself over totally to steering the fortunes of the operations," Mr Dilger said.

Hazlewood was bought for £470 million over two years ago as a key driver in Greencore's business.

Since the group bought Hazlewood, it has worked hard at pulling the group into shape.

Hazlewood has critical importance for the group's strategic evolution, and Mr Dilger says his and the group's future is riding on how it performs in the years ahead.

The group continues to struggle somewhat and its pre-tax profits for the six months to March were down 3% to €30.1m.

Earnings per share were down 5% to 13.4 cent.

Over the period, like-for-like sales rose 4% while the convenience sector generated 6% growth in tough market conditions.

Greencore said that price increases have been achieved to offset all of the significant raw material inflation in the British convenience food categories, although the time lag has impacted on the six-month results.

The group said it had made good progress in the first six months and had capably dealt with the key cost challenges faced by the entire sector.

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