Müller HQ takes control of headless UK division

Müller Dairy is thought to have scrapped its top management role in the UK, following the departure of chief executive Andrew Harrison (pictured) earlier this summer.

The UK’s leading dairy brand is now being controlled from its German head office, with the Müller family having ultimate control over UK operations. It is understood to be the first time that control has rested directly with head office since Müller was launched in the UK in 1986.

The company has now been restructured under three directors, including finance director Sian Land and sales director David Potts. They will report directly to German management.

It is not clear what the changes will mean for the UK marketing department, or for marketing director Chris McDonough, brought in by Harrison a year ago (MW November 25, 2004). Both Harrison and his predecessor, Ken Wood, had strong marketing backgrounds and the decision to axe the role suggests that marketing may also be controlled by head office from now on.

One industry insider suggests this could mean the company’s marketing strategy will become more promotion-oriented. Earlier this year, Müller slashed prices of core ranges in an effort to stem declining sales and marketing share (MW February 17).

One industry insider says that the decision has been taken not to replace Harrison, who had been in the role for just over a year, because he did not see “eye to eye” with the German management.

It is not clear whether oversight of UK management by Germany is a long-term strategy. Müller failed to return calls as Marketing Week went to press.

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