Chocolate maker appointing "younger generation of managers"

Chocolate maker appointing "younger generation of managers"

Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli has announced Martin Hug, the CFO of its US unit Ghirardelli, will become group chief financial officer from January.

Hug has held the CFO post at Ghirardelli since 2011. He joined Lindt & Sprüngli in 2004 as senior corporate controller and was later promoted to the post of CFO at Lindt & Sprüngli UK. 

Alain Germiquet, the CEO of the company's French arm, will also join Lindt & Sprüngli's group management team in January. Germiquet, who joined the company in 2007, will assume responsibility for "several countries" and international sales.

Lindt & Sprüngli said Guido Steiner, the executive in charge of group operations, will also join the group management team. Steiner, who joined the company in 1992, has been at the group's headquarters since 2003 as vice-president of operations.

Uwe Sommer, the head of international marketing/sales and global retail, as well as responsible for a number of countries, will resign from group management by the end of April 2017 to take early retirement, the group said. His responsibilities will be handed to Germiquet and Rolf Fallegger, the head of Lindt & Sprüngli's international marketings.

The group said yesterday (30 August) that its management team was being expanded by experienced executives from within the company. "By handing over responsibility to a younger generation of managers with strong track records, the Lindt & Sprüngli Group guarantees continuity playing an important role for the company."

The new appointments are the latest senior management changes announced by the chocolate group. In June, Lindt & Sprüngli announced president and CEO Ernst Tanner was to be replaced by CFO Dr Dieter Weisskopf.

Tanner will hand over the CEO's reins on 1 October and will focus on the long-term strategy of the group as executive chairman, it was confirmed yesterday.

Jon Cox, an analyst covering Lindt & Sprüngli for French finance house Kepler Cheuvreux, said: "We have long-admired Lindt's business. The company was an early frontrunner in the trend toward premiumization among FMCGs and successfully rolled out continental style chocolate to the rest of the world. However, there are clear risks with a generational changing of the guard - although the well-respected Weisskopf knows the business like the back of his hand and Tanner will remain extremely influential - after success for more than 20 years. The chocolate market is seeing challenges amid concerns about health, there is increased competition, while Lindt is expanding in retail to maintain its - best-in-class - growth goals while key returns and free cash and dividend yields are light compared to peers."