North American frozen seafood manufacturer High Liner Foods has announced it is promoting its chief financial officer Paul Jewer to the role of CEO.

Jewer, who will also join the group’s board of directors, has been acting as High Liner’s Interim CEO since September 2023.

He has been the company’s CFO since February 2014 and has more than 20 years’ experience in the food industry, formerly acting as CFO at the Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys from 2003 to 2011.

Commenting on the decision in a statement, Robert Pace, chair of High Liner Foods’ board of directors said: “Over nearly ten years as CFO, Paul has had a significant impact on the organisation and more recently he has demonstrated the strength of his steady leadership as interim CEO. 

“The board and I have full confidence in Paul and the management team as they lead our ambitious growth agenda.”

High Liner said it is starting its search for a replacement CFO with immediate effect.

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By GlobalData

Speaking on his promotion, Jewer said: “We have some exciting work ahead of us and I know that we have the right strategy and people in place to build upon the solid foundation that has been built for nearly 125 years.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the High Liner team as we deliver on our purpose, re-imaging seafood to nourish life, creating value for all of our stakeholders”.

The company’s former CEO, Rod Hepponstall resigned from the role in August. He has since taken on the same c-suite position at the US grain-based product and frozen food supplier C.H. Guenther & Son.

Headquartered in Nova Scotia, Canada, High Liner produces a range of frozen breaded and seasoned seafood products for retail across North America. Its brands include its namesake label, as well as Fisher Boy, Sea Cuisine, Mirabel and Catch of the Day.

The publicly-listed company also supplies to foodservice within the continent under its High Liner, Mirabel, Icelandic Seafood and FBI brands.

In its latest financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2023, the group saw sales drop 4.2% compared to the same period in 2022, from $271.2m to $259.7m. This was said to reflect “changes in sales mix and sharper pricing” affecting some of its commodity goods.

According to High Liner, the decrease was “partially offset” by larger sales volumes and “inflationary-pricing actions” put in place in the last fiscal quarter of 2022 which were still in force in Q3 2023.

Gross profit also decreased by 12.5% compared to the same period last year. from $56.7m to $49.6m; a reflection of “changes in product mix, higher carrying costs associated with higher inventory including sharper pricing on some of our commodity products and some inefficiencies at our plants.”

Adjusted EBITDA was down $4.8m to $20m, which the group has accounted to the decline in gross profit, moderately offset by the drop in distribution costs and net selling, general and administrative expenses.