Premier ups buyer numbers

4 July 2007
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05 July 2007 | Antony Barton

The UK's largest food producer is to increase the numbers in its procurement function by 25 per cent.

The new procurement team at Premier Foods will include farming specialists, support staff and analysts, and recruitment is under way for about 20 roles.

This follows Premier's £1.23 billion takeover of RHM in March (News, 14 December 2006).

Mark Hughes, previously group procurement and logistics director at RHM, is group procurement director, displacing Premier's head of procurement Robert Lawson. Hughes has joined Premier's operating board and controls an annual spend in excess of £1.4 billion.

Lawson remains as mergers & acquisitions and investor relations director on the operations board.

There are also four senior category heads of procurement, covering directs; operational indirects; HR, IT and corporate; and sales and marketing. RHM staff fill three of these positions.

When asked why RHM had taken the majority of leading procurement roles, Hughes told SM that RHM's buying operation was bigger and more established than Premier's and the appointments reflect this.

The RHM team won the most improved purchasing operation - start-up category at the CIPS SM Awards two years ago, having cut costs by £20 million in one year and reduced its supply base by 40 per cent (Features, 17 November 2005).

Hughes said: "I am delighted with the calibre of the senior procurement team, which truly combines the best of both from the former Premier Foods and RHM organisations."

There had been a handful of redundancies in procurement, mainly due to relocation around the UK.

The new function includes two non-category teams. The first is Programme Management, which will challenge category buyers' strategies on budget and target delivery.

The second non-category team is Stakeholder Management, which should ensure corporate strategic alignment.

In a May trading statement, Premier said integration of RHM was on track to achieve eventual annual savings of £85 million. Its takeover of food manufacturer Campbell's UK and Irish businesses, completed in 2006, should provide annual cost savings of £28 million.

The company has a turnover of £2.7 billion.


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