The Walkers Midshire restructure was designed to help it improve customer service and extend its product offer, it said. Both units will continue to operate out of the single Cobden Street address in Leicester.
Two new teams have also been formed. In the deli business unit, Lee Sullivan has moved from production director to acting md. Alison Morrell has joined as the new sales director and Sarah Topley has been promoted to acting finance director from finance controller.
In Walkers Sausage Co, Richard Walker has joined the business as the new sales director. Alan Thomas is the new finance director and Jerry Gadhia is in post as the interim operations director. Simon Benning is now head of innovation for both business units.
Samworths has also created an innovation centre for both units, incorporating a kitchen, demonstration theatre, and a boardroom for customer presentations, which has already been visited by representatives from Tesco and Waitrose.
“The last few months have been a period of significant change and development for both sides of the business,” said Anita Barker, group executive board director and md of Walkers Deli and Sausage Co.
“Change is never easy, but the sausage and cooked meat businesses were facing new challenges that we had to respond to, such as increased competition and different requirements from customers. We are making good progress now.”
Elsewhere, Samworths has officially opened its £17M Ashton Green factory in Leicestershire, which is dedicated to supplying chilled sandwiches and salads for Tesco.
In addition to the production area, the site’s large storage and despatch zone would support other Samworths businesses, particularly in seasonal busy periods such as Christmas and summer, it said.
“Bradgate Bakery has grown consistently and very successfully throughout its 21 years of operation,” said Samworth Brothers group ceo Lindsey Pownall. “This expansion to a second site at Ashton Green gives us the foundations for continued growth and will provide additional long term support to our customer.”
The group has invested nearly £130M in capital projects over the past five years. Over the past two years it has made significant investments at its Walker & Son Charnwood Bakery at Beaumont Leys, Blueberry Foods at Leicester Forest East and Melton Foods in Melton Mowbray.
Bradgate bakery md Paul Davey said: “It is great that we can now build on the success of the original Bradgate Bakery site at Ashton Green. It will really help us extend our capacity and product range and serve our customer better.”
The original Bradgate Bakery site in Madeline Road employs 1,100 staff. Ashton Green hosts 370 staff, with that number set to grow to 500 by next summer and potentially 700 eventually.
Tesco chairman Richard Broadbent presided over the formal opening on November 25, but the facility began operating on September 10.
The site features some of the latest environmental technologies, including solar panels on the roof, and is the first Samworths site to use renewable energy to generate on-site power.
Plans to build the 50,000m2 plant were first revealed in November 2012 following a greenfield land deal struck with Leicester City Council.
But it wasn’t until March 10 this year that construction began.
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