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Audrey Baxter returns as CEO of family’s food group

Scotland’s Baxter Food Group, known for its soups and chutneys, has returned to the sole charge of fourth-gen businesswoman Audrey Baxter, following the sudden departure of a non-family chief executive.

Baxter, who has been chairwoman since 2002, will take over from Bill King, who had been chief executive since 2009 and joined the company in 2002.

The announcement coincided with the release of the company’s 2014 results, and news that it has acquired US convenience food and military ration company Wornick.

The company’s profits for the period dropped to £146,000. It follows several years of falling profit – the company’s pre-tax earnings in the 2012 financial year had been £4.6 million, and £7.1 million for 2011. Last year, they were just £1.78 million.

The company said it had absorbed £7.6 million in exceptional costs last year such as the integration costs associated with a 2011 acquisition, and its purchase of Australian sauce maker Jensen’s Choice Foods.

The company said as it had suffered a “major adverse impact” from foreign exchange rates, due to its increasing internationalisation. It added that the volatile food retailing market at home had also had a negative impact.

Baxter joined the family business in 1988, becoming chief executive 12 years later.

When her successor, Norman Souter, left suddenly in 2006 to head rival food company William Jackson & Sons, Baxter returned as the interim CEO.

The businesswoman has previously said she wants revenues to reach £300 million by 2020. This year revenues reached £161 million, up from £157 million in 2013. 

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