Head of Manufacturing and Operations - Food Manufacturer


Our client is a well-established manufacturer of branded and own label biscuits selling to all the major UK grocery retailers.


Historically very successful, the business had been part of a large UK plc, but during the last 10 years had been sold several times and also subject to a number of management buyouts. One of Collingwood’s private equity clients had recently purchased this business and sought to take it from loss-making to stable and then drive profitable growth.


Alongside the appointment of a new Managing Director, Collingwood were asked to recruit a new Head of Manufacturing & Operations to develop and drive continuous improvement / LEAN strategies that would provide a foundation for production to become industry leading once again. Other focus included cost reduction, increasing efficiencies, improving health and safety and the overall capabilities of the operations team. The workforce had largely remained together and provided the business with an excellent knowledge base. However, they were also a tired of all the change brought about as a result frequent new owners. The role of the new Operations Manager was to bring more change but also stability in order to build a strong team to support and help the change succeed. Candidates needed to have experience of bakery production, ideally within both large and small companies, therefore, bringing the best of both worlds and ensuring the SME culture was understood. The position offered a fantastic opportunity for someone to make the role their own.


Collingwood spent a significant amount of time with the management team and the owners on site to really understand the current culture, challenges of the role and candidates required to ensure success. Armed with this knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the role’s objectives, we targeted “bakery production” professionals in the food manufacturing industry with the following focused strategy;

1. We approached Collingwood’s extensive network of cross-functional contacts in the food manufacturing industry to gain referrals and recommendations to relevant potential candidates.

2. We proactively headhunted into bakery manufacturers using our proven techniques to identify and approach relevant individuals. We were completely transparent with our client in respect of the companies we were targeting to ensure no conflict of interest.  

3. We placed an advert in various food specific media to cast the net wide and ensure all potential candidates knew about this opportunity.


Due to the precise “bakery production” experience required, the advert response was very poor and so the success of this assignment relied upon our proactive headhunting expertise. We interviewed a candidate longlist of 8 which resulted in a shortlist to our client of 4. Our candidate shortlist contained CV’s, full interview notes and 3rd party behaviour profiling which allowed our client to really understand each candidate before they met them. Armed with this information the Managing Director and Finance Director were able to prepare beforehand and ensured a series of effective interviews took place. The role was successfully filled first time and within time-scales set by our client.