In his absence, FoodManufacture.co.uk understands that Mark Cooper – an experienced interim manager – has been running the business since June.
Cooper, who lists his job title on the professional networking website Linked In as ‘Interim manager, Northern Foods’, has held senior operational and general management positions at firms including Rensow Patisserie, Tetley, Lyons Seafoods, Golden Wonder and Burtons. He is currently on holiday.
Northern Foods will not comment on Court-Johnston (pictured above left with Sainsbury's boss Justin King), but told journalists last month that its group md for convenience foods Robin Walker was running Holland's.
It also stressed that bosses "have not and are not looking to sell" Holland’s Pies. It added: “Our only on-the-record comment is that we wouldn't comment on matters relating to individual employees. But we have not and are not looking to sell Holland's; in fact we are investing in the business and the brand currently."
Yesterday, however, a spokesman did confirm that Cooper had been at the helm since June: "We can confirm Mark is overseeing Holland's as an interim."
Court-Johnston has worked at Northern Foods for more than five years, joining in 2005 as group customer director and progressing on to sales director at Pork Farms in 2006 and commercial director for ready meals in 2007 before taking the helm at Holland’s Pies in July 2008.