Freedom Foods Group, the Australian dairy and plant-based beverage business, has said acting finance chief Stephanie Graham has tendered her resignation.

Graham was named acting CFO last June after CFO Campbell Nicholas left Freedom Foods in the wake of a profit warning and ahead of news the company was looking into possible fraudulent activity.

In November, Freedom Foods said an audit by Deloitte and an accounting investigation by PwC “identified a range of accounting matters going back a number of years”, leading to the restating of company accounts and “material writedowns”. Freedom Foods is cooperating with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in relation to investigations into these unspecified matters. 

Josée Lemoine, the former Fairfax Media and Rio Tinto executive Freedom Foods named as its new permanent CFO back in October but whose start date has been delayed, will become the company’s finance chief “effective immediately”.

Trading in Freedom Foods’ shares, suspended since last June, are still on hold. Freedom Foods had said in December Lemoine would become CFO when trading resumed but Graham’s departure has brought that date forward.

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By GlobalData

“Ms. Lemoine has been working within the company’s finance team since November 2020,” Freedom Foods said in the filing with the ASX. “The board of Freedom Foods Group thanks Ms. Graham for her service and commitment to the company and wishes her well in her future endeavours.”

Freedom Foods produces consumer-dairy products, dairy ingredients and plant-based beverages. In December, the company announced the sale of its cereal and snacks division to local peer The Arnott’s Group, owned by US private-equity firm KKR, for AUD20m (US$15.6m).

In January, Freedom Foods said the company was reviewing the potential disposal of its seafood division, which would leave the business engaged in dairy, nutritionals and plant-based beverages.

In the fiscal year to 30 June 2020, revenue climbed 26% to AUD461.8m, but losses permeated the rest of the results. EBITDA was in the red to the tune of AUD96.7m, widening from the previous year’s loss of AUD118.6m.

Net profit after tax was a loss of AUD174.5m, down from a corresponding loss of AUD145.8m. Net debt stood at AUD275.2m, up from AUD122m in the prior 12 months.