Food manufacturer Premier Foods has announced plans to create a new back office and IT centre of excellence in Manchester as the company reports a positive end to 2008 as its famous brands buck the negative news of late and sell well.

Premier Foods has grown dramatically in size over the last two years following its acquisition of the bakery company RHM and soup makers Campbell’s. As a result the company is setting up a new back office “centre of excellence” a spokesperson told CIO UK to centralise and handle IT, accounting, pay and other administrative tasks. Premier Foods said 40 new IT jobs will be created for SAP specialists.

Premier Foods chose Manchester as the admin and IT hub for its nationwide food manufacturing business due to the city’s excellent SAP skills base and transport links.

Once completed the Manchester office will take over the running of the Premier Foods SAP platform, which is being implemented by Atos Origin. Mark Vickery, Director of IS and Change Management explained, “The original implementation of SAP took place before the acquisitions of Campbell’s and RHM. The change in scale following those acquisitions meant that we could put in place our own internal SAP capability.”
Turnover at Premier Foods rose from £790 million in 2005 to £2,247m in 2007. Following a reassessment of the SAP programme, Premier Foods decided it could save £2m from its original plan by bringing the project in-house.

The SAP integration across Premier Foods is almost complete, with just the Manor Bakeries cake business to be added this year. Premier Foods is also reorganising its logistics and procurement systems. “The manufacturing phase of our transformation programme is now complete,” said chief executive Robert Schofield, who now expects the company to be able to realise improvements in its supply chain and to begin being more “innovative”.

Sales of Hovis bread rose by 13 per cent in 2008, whilst sales of its Mr Kipling and Branston brands were up by nine per cent during 2008. Group sales were up by nine per cent and the group trading profit is expected to be between £315 million and £320m.

The company has closed nine factories since 2007 as it integrated RHM and Campbell’s.

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