Gavin Darby has been re-elected as chief executive of Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods – although more than 40% of the vote went against him.

Darby, who has been with the business for five years, had faced being ousted from the role after Oasis Management Company – the largest independent investor in Premier – accused him of driving the business into “its current zombie-like state”.

Oasis urged other shareholders to vote against the re-election of Darby, although the Premier board backed him and said it “strongly believes” Darby is the best person to lead the company.

At the company’s AGM today (18 July), 59% of the vote was in favour of Darby’s re-election.

"A majority of shareholders who voted followed the board’s advice in supporting the re-election of Gavin Darby, and the board appreciates their support,” said the Premier board in a statement.

It added that it had held discussions with a “substantial proportion” of major shareholders in recent weeks, and listened to investors’ concerns.

“The board will give careful consideration to all shareholders’ views, and discussions with shareholders will continue,” it stated.

"The board is committed to continuing its strategy of improving performance and reducing net debt, while working in parallel to identify other strategic opportunities to accelerate the company’s turnaround to create value for shareholders."

Oasis said it was carefully considering its next steps, and stated that a majority of independent public equity shareholders voted against the re-election of Darby.

The shareholder insisted that Darby should step down immediately.

“If he is unwilling to resign, we urge the other directors to discharge their duties and act in the best interests of the shareholders as a whole to remove him,” said Oasis.

Premier today issued a quarterly trading update, in which it revealed sales of the Mr Kipling brand had grown 14% year on year.