Premier Foods chairman steps down after boardroom battle

Premier Foods chairman Keith Hamill has quit the group, following its chief executive out of the door after a bitter battle with boardroom activists.

Mr Hamill will retire from the role after the Mr Kipling maker’s annual general meeting on July 17, the firm said.

The company thanked him “for his leadership and counsel” during his two years in the role, following his appointment in August 2017.

Mr Hamill oversaw a difficult period for the group, which also owns the Bisto and Ambrosia brands, as it fought against activist pressure for a major shake-up.

Former chief executive Gavin Darby left in January, six months after withstanding a shareholder revolt led by activist investors Oasis Management and Paulson.

Mr Hamill was a major supporter of Mr Darby during the projected boardroom battle, firmly opposing accusations from Oasis that the former boss led “five years of failure”.

The pair faced pressure from investors to rapidly reduce the firm’s £500 million debt pile through disposals.

Premier failed in its attempts to sell custard brand Ambrosia earlier this year, and has since appointed boutique corporate finance firm D’Angelin & Co to explore a potential break-up of the business.

Both activist investors have now joined the company’s board as it looks to drive growth and generate cash from its portfolio of traditional British brands, which also includes Angel Delight, Batchelors and Oxo.

Chief financial officer Alastair Murray has taken over as interim chief executive while the hunt for a permanent successor continues.

Senior independent director Richard Hodgson is leading a search for a new chairman.