“Currently the greatest opportunities for growth are design systems which make operations simple and less reliant on experience; investing in automation to transform the process and not just to cover labour gaps.” Annelie Vorster, HIC Associate Consultant

John Hiles

Managing Director

Until 2017, John was CEO of Pioneer Foods UK. They’re the country’s leading cereal maker, providing own-label and branded manufacture and packaging services for many of the leading retailers and brands in the UK and around the world.

While he was there, John…

  • Grew the company from £28 million to £64 million over a three-year period with 2017 turnover exceeding £75million
  • Increased the net return by 500% in a very price competitive environment
  • Designed and managed the implementation of a world class cereal production facility
  • Moved the entire production facility to new site whilst maintaining 98% service levels, BRC AA+ rating and on-going success of customer audits such as M&S and Tesco
  • Launched a competing product to the leading brand, Weetabix
  • Championed and drove Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing
  • Led the Change Management of shift structures – moving from 24/4 to 24/5 and then to continental shift patterns


Prior to joining Pioneer in 2001, John was the owner of JJC Automation and held senior positions at Weet-Bix SA and Ceres Fruit Juices SA. He began his career as an Apprentice Instrument Technician, so is intimately acquainted with how the industry works at every level.



Annelie Vorster

Associate Consultant

After graduating with a 1st from Oxford Brookes University, Annelie joined Pioneer Foods in May 2015 as a Continuous Improvement Assessor, becoming CI Lead at Pioneer where her roles included driving efficiency and cost-reduction across all three Pioneer sites and supporting and facilitating the change towards a continuous improvement culture. She joined HIC in 2017 as Associate Consultant where her focus is on data capture, display and analysis to drive the deployment of lean manufacturing and CI methodologies.

Her achievements include:

  • Seven months at Bowmans Ingredients, upgrading and standardising the OEE databases on three sites.
  • Leading a waste reduction project that initially reduced rejects by up to 20% per week, plus interim Production Management which increased efficiency by 5%.
  • Designing and implementing a new OEE tracker for Whites, including training out to staff and paperwork design in two weeks.
  • At Pioneer, reduced manual handling constraints and increased efficiency by 10% on two highest throughput lines.
  • Commissioned new production line.
  • Re-designed all KPI tracking databases and associated paperwork allowing opportunities to be identified and success monitored.