Boulder Brands, the US company behind Udi's gluten free and Smart Balance spreads, has created a new role of COO to oversee operations at the business.

Director Jim Leighton, who joined the company in 2007, will take the position. Manufacturing, R&D and foodservice falls under Leighton's remit and he will continue to sit on the Boulder board.

"As Boulder Brands continues to grow and focus on innovation, I have recognized the need to increase our depth of expertise in operations, international and manufacturing resources," Boulder chairman and CEO Steve Hughes said.

"Jim's wide-ranging background in management and financial P&L responsibilities, across a broad range of businesses, channels and geographies will ensure greater operational efficiencies across the organisation. I will continue to focus on driving consumer and customer demand and Jim will focus on developing, building and optimizing our team, systems, processes, and partners to fulfill demand."

Hughes set up Boulder Specialty Brands in 2005 as a vehicle to acquire an unidentified business; two years later, it had bought GFA Brands, the owner of the Smart Balance range of spreads, cooking oil, peanut butter and popcorn.

In 2011, Smart Balance made its first move into gluten free with the acquisition of Glutino Food Group. It followed that up last year with the purchase of gluten-free firm Udi's Healthy Foods.

Click here for our two-part interview with Hughes, published last month, in which he discusses his ambitions for Boulder's gluten-free business and the company's plans to revitalise its Smart Balance portfolio.