New Zealand-based dairy and infant-formula group A2 Milk Co. has named clothing industry executive David Bortolussi as its new CEO.

The announcement comes nine months after the previous CEO Jayne Hrdlicka stepped down from the role.

Since then, Geoffrey Babidge has carried out CEO duties on an interim basis.

Bortolussi, who also becomes managing director, will be based in Sydney, Australia, when he takes up the position “early in the 2021 calendar year”. Babidge, formerly a permanent CEO at A2, will continue to lead the business until then.

The new CEO’s executive-level experience lies outside the dairy sector. He joins A2 from clothing firm HanesBrands where he was group president for international innerwear.

Prior to that role, Bortolussi spent five years at beer company Foster’s Group, where he held the role of chief strategy officer responsible for corporate strategy, M&A, business development and performance improvement. 

In this role, Bortolussi was instrumental in leading the process that ultimately led to the operational separation and demerger of Foster’s domestic beer and global wine businesses, A2 said.

It added: “David has many strengths that make him well suited to leading the company at this stage of its growth, including extensive international leadership experience in the consumer and retail sector, particularly in corporate strategy and business transformation with a focus on brand development and innovation, multi- channel management and supply chain operations.” 

A2 chairman David Hearn said: “David has demonstrated significant skill in guiding businesses through periods of significant growth whilst also effectively managing the changes that expansion frequently requires. The A2 Milk Company is going through a period of continued strong growth in dynamic markets and David’s skill-set and comprehensive strategic and operational experience will serve the company well.

Bortolussi added: “The team at A2 has created a very distinctive consumer proposition, amazing brand and strong culture with so much potential. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead such a talented and experienced team, and to be part of the next phase of growth.”

Hrdlicka stepped down from the CEO position in December after only two years in the job. She said that the role, moving forward, “required more travel than I had anticipated when I joined the company”.

In the six months to the end of December, A2 booked revenue of NZD806.7m (US$533.3m), up 32% on a year earlier. The company’s net profit after tax was 21% higher at NZD184.9m.

A2’s last full financial year ran to the end of June 3019, during which revenue jumped 41% to NZD1.3bn, with net profit after tax 47% higher at NZD287.7m.