Ex-Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby handed £863,000 payout

Former Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby received an almost-£1 million payout after he was axed by the Mr Kipling-maker earlier this year.

Mr Darby left the British consumer group in January 2019, months after he narrowly survived a bitter boardroom crunch vote as activist investors sought to force him out of the firm.

After his departure, the former chief executive received a £863,557 pay-out in lieu of his 12-month notice period, the company’s annual report for 2018/19 has revealed.

The report also revealed that Mr Darby was handed a £1.2 million pay packet for the year, despite leading the company, which also owns the Bisto and Ambrosia brands, into the red last year.

Premier Foods slid to £42.7 million loss for the year to March 2019, down from a £20 million profit the previous year, after it was hammered by pension charges and restructuring costs.

Despite the loss, Mr Darby’s pay packet included a £525,000 annual bonus for hitting some performance objectives.

The company said directors’ financial rewards were based on Premier’s “strong overall performance” during the year, which saw it cut further into its £469 million debt mountain.

Mr Darby, who also failed to secure a sale of custard brand Ambrosia to further reduce debts, was replaced on an interim basis by current chief finance officer Alistair Murray.

Mr Murray saw his annual pay packet rise by 21% to £751,000 for the year, as he was boosted by a £232,000 annual bonus.

A recruitment process is currently taking place to find Mr Darby’s long-term successor, who will have to lead the firm amid intense scrutiny from activist investors Paulson and Oasis, who joined Premier’s board earlier this year.

The group has also recently hired bankers at boutique advisory firm d’Angelin & Co to explore a break-up.

Last month, chairman Keith Hamill also announced his exit from the company, having ardently backed Mr Darby against the activist pressure.