Business Irish

Thursday 23 November 2017

Investors bullish on new CEO at Aryzta

Gary McGann, chairman of Aryzta
Gary McGann, chairman of Aryzta
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Shares in embattled Irish-Swiss baked goods group Aryzta jumped more than 5pc at one point yesterday as investors digested the appointment of DAA boss Kevin Toland as the company's new chief executive.

The former Glanbia executive succeeds Owen Killian, as Aryzta struggles to regain its footing after a tortuous couple of years.

Davy Stockbrokers said that Mr Toland would bring "deep knowledge" of the food sector to Aryzta as the company rebuilds its senior executive team.

Davy added that Aryzta, whose chairman is former Smurfit Kappa chief executive Gary McGann, would benefit from Mr Toland's "strong operational and strategic capabilities".

Goodbody Stockbrokers also said that Mr Toland's appointment was a "positive development" for Aryzta given his track record.

"The speed of the appointment is also welcome, and means Mr Toland should be in place before the end of the year," the broker added.

Investec was also upbeat.

"Aryzta would appear to have secured the services of a very strong candidate who not only has experience of the food ingredients world but also in the US where Aryzta has a number of issues to address," it said.

Mr Toland, who headed Glanbia's North America business and was on the group's board from 2003 to 2013, faces considerable challenges in revitalising Aryzta, which owns brands including Cuisine de France.

Mr McGann has been firefighting at Aryzta since he was parachuted into the troubled company last September, but had ruled himself out of an executive role at the company.

In February, Aryzta announced that Mr Killian, chief financial officer Patrick McEniff, and John Yamin, the chief executive of Aryzta's Americas business, had tendered their resignations.

Mr McGann also announced at the time that Aryzta was engaged in a review of its investment strategy in joint ventures.

Speaking to analysts in March, Mr McGann said that Aryzta needed to have a "sense of direction" by the end of July.

He also said that shareholders in Aryzta would not face a cash call and that no issues had been detected with Aryzta's accounts or balance sheet that raised any concerns regarding its historical financial performance.

Aryzta's revenue in the first six months of its financial year fell 1.6pc to €1.9bn, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation slumped 31.3pc to €158.5m.

Mr McGann also said at the time that Aryzta is willing to sell its 49pc stake in French food firm Picard for the right price. Aryzta's acquisition of the Picard stake has been a bone of contention for investors.

Irish Independent

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