A new Findus Group role for man remembered for Birds Eye factory closure
A MAN who broke the news to hundreds of workers about one of Grimsby's biggest factory closures has been appointed chief executive of the parent company behind town giant Young's Seafood.
James Hill will take over at the helm of Findus Group on April 1, more than eight years after telling 600 Birds Eye staff of owner Unilever's decision to shut the huge Ladysmith Road plant.
He fills the role left by Chris Britton late last year, arriving from Unilever Italy, a division of the European company he has spent much of his 32-year career with.
Following last year's major reorganisation within Young's and the £220 million capital restructure of Findus Group, optimism abounds about the future of the fish business, with sources saying any repeat of Mr Hill's last intervention in highly unlikely.
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Leendert den Hollander continues in his role as chief executive.
Mr Hill said: "I am delighted to be joining Findus with its great brands, strong businesses and talented people.
"The recent restructuring provides a solid financial platform and I can see the potential for significant profitable growth in the future."
As extensively reported, Grimsby has been the benefactor of a major overhaul of Young's, with more than 300 jobs created as plants owned elsewhere in the country were closed.
In total, 183 additional products are now made in the town, destined for major retailers across the UK.
It was a move that boosted morale within what Mr den Hollander has described as a "stronger, better positioned" business.
Of the appointment he said: "We welcome James to the Findus Group. In the UK our focus continues to be on encouraging people to eat fish twice a week, and on responsibly serving our customers and consumers with chilled and frozen fish and seafood."
More than half of Findus' total employees are with Young's, with upwards of 1,700 in Grimsby alone.
The town is regarded as the firm's spiritual home, and is the manufacturing and new product development centre of excellence. It has played out the phenomenal growth of the brand – now bolstered by the Jamie Oliver range.
The remaining businesses within Findus Group carry the Findus name and are focused on France, the Nordics and Spain.
Dale Morrison, chairman of Findus Group, said: "James has an outstanding track record of developing businesses through imaginative brand building, tight cost control and strong leadership.
"He has in-depth knowledge of the frozen food market and considerable international experience.
"We look forward to James successfully leading Findus Group in its next phase of development and building on the strong platform put in place over the past year."