Aryzta has announced its Europe/APAC CEO Hilliard Lombard is stepping down

Aryzta has announced its Europe/APAC CEO Hilliard Lombard is stepping down

Aryzta has announced the departure of Hilliard Lombard, the head of the bakery group's business in Europe and APAC.

Lombard, CEO of Aryzta's Europe/APAC division, will leave the group at the end of January to "pursue other interests".

The move will see Dermot Murphy head up Aryzta's food solutions unit and Frank Kleiner named MD of its European/APAC bakeries arm. Both will report to the group CEO and COO.

Mainfirst analyst Alain Oberhuber suggested having the two divisions report directly to the group CEO and COO meant management wanted "to give a higher priority to the turnaround of food solutions."

The move comes at a time of weakening investor confidence linked to concerns about Aryzta's acquisition strategy and the performance of its US business. Its full-year results, announced in September, showed underlying sales fall 2.2% after a 6.2% drop in its North American unit. Underlying net profit fell 4.7% to EUR360m.

"The food solutions business, which accounts for 50% of total European activities, is weak, as large retailers, i.e. Aldi and Lidl, are putting pressure on the category," Oberhuber said. "Within food solutions the premium segment should continue to do well, while the other 25%, namely gas stations and independent retailers continue to shrink. In order to improve this segment Aryzta will focus more on the specialist business... Aryzta will increase new investment in marketing and management, is focusing on the premium segment, is adding new volume to replace lost volume, and is restoring margin expansion. The company is optimising its strategy for revenues and costs and increasing its focus on innovation, cross-selling and revenue extension. Innovation remains a key focus area, with 50% of the food portfolio being beyond bakery."

"[The] bakeries [division] should continue to grow by around +5%. Of the three acquisitions in FY15, Pré Pain (Holland) and Fornetti (Hungary) will help Aryzta to have enough capacity to deliver to its 20 top clients."

Aryzta could not be reached for comment at time of press.