Aryzta shores up top table with two new executives
Embattled Swiss-Irish baked goods firm Aryzta, which owns the Cuisine de France brand, has moved to shore up its US operations with the appointment of industry veteran Dave Johnson as chief executive of its North America business.
Mr Johnson was most recently a senior executive at Swiss cocoa giant Barry Callebaut, and is a former Kraft executive.
Aryzta, headed by former DAA boss Kevin Toland, has also poached the DAA's chief development officer, John Heffernan, as its new chief strategy officer.
The two key appointments come as Mr Toland embarks on a significant challenge to reverse the fortunes of Aryzta, which suffered from strategic missteps and endured the after-effects of a US immigration crackdown.
Mr Toland started as Aryzta chief executive last September, succeeding Owen Killian, who departed along with two other key executives last year.
Mr Toland said that Mr Johnson has demonstrated "a strong customer and market focus while delivering superior financial performance and growth".
Aryzta's US operations have suffered since the group tried selling products directly to retailers - a move that put Aryzta in direct competition with some of its own clients and was deemed a significant failure.
A major Aryzta plant in Chicago, Cloverhill, then lost 800 workers following an immigration raid. The well-publicised loss of the workers - about 35pc of the total -played havoc with production at the facility.
The staff that left the facility had been supplied by a third-party agency to Aryzta.
A profit warning early last year wiped €1.4bn off the market capitalisation of Aryzta within a week. In its last financial year, Aryzta's earnings before interest, tax and amortisation slumped 43pc to €259m.
It recorded a pre-tax loss of €1bn after taking a non-cash charge of €860m related to the write-down of assets in the United States.
Mr Johnson was president and chief executive for the Americas of Barry Callebaut for nine years, and retired from the role last August.
He previously spent more than 20 years with Kraft, and was a member of its global executive team.
Mr Heffernan led the implementation of a new growth strategy at the DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, and oversaw the development of major infrastructure projects including the continuing development of a new runway at Dublin Airport.