Northern Foods has played down claims that executive Ed Hyslop left the business due to changes instigated by new owners Boparan Holdings.

Hyslop, the managing director of Northern's pies and pastries divison, has left the UK food maker, which makes brands including Holland's and McDougalls.

A spokesman for Northern said Hyslop's departure came as the company continued with the restructuring of its business, moves that were first announced last October.

Eight months ago, while still an independent company, Northern announced plans to revamp its business and cut the number of divisions in its business.

The spokesman said the changes - which left Northern with two divisions, branded and chilled - meant a number of divisional MDs departed from the business.

The final changes, including Hyslop's departure, had been made since Boparan completed its GBP342m (US$556.3m) takeover of the company but were part of the revamp announced last autumn, the spokesman added.

Northern's pies and pastries business is now being overseen by the MD of the company's branded operations, Graham Hunter.

Hyslop joined Northern last year as a consultant and became MD for the company's pies and pastries unit in June.

A month earlier, Neil Court-Johnston, the MD of Holland's Pies, left Northern amid allegations that he had tried to engineer a sale of the unit without the company's consent.