Britain's biggest food group Premier Foods
said Mark Moran would replace Jim Smart as chief financial officer and executive director early next month.

The group, whose brands include Ambrosia, Batchelor's, Hovis and Mr. Kipling, on Friday said Moran would replace Smart on the firm's board in early December after Smart and Premier decided to part company.

He (Jim Smart) agreed with the company that 2012 would be the right time to step down as the company's new business plan is finalised and as its new financing arrangements are put in place, Premier Foods said in a statement.

Premier Foods won an extra three-month grace period from its lenders earlier this month as it secured a deal whereby its banks agreed to defer a financial covenant test to the end of March 2012.

The group is struggling with hefty debts of 1.3 billion pounds after an acquisition spree, and feeling the squeeze of a sharp rise in commodity costs and weak consumer demand in Britain.

Moran was previously finance director of consumer healthcare firm SSL International and has also worked for Porvair and Caradon.

Mark Moran's expertise will be invaluable as we continue our journey to rebuild the company and restore growth, added the company.

Shares in Premier Foods, which have lost two-thirds of their value in the last three months, closed at 4.53 pence on Thursday, valuing the business at around 109 million pounds.

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Sarah Young)