The CEO of Norwegian conglomerate Orkla has stepped down as the company today (30 April) reported a 56% drop in first-quarter earnings.

Bjørn Wiggen announced his resignation, with effect from today, after 19 months in the role. Deputy chair of the board Aage Korsvold has been appointed as acting president and CEO until a permanent successor is found, the company said.

“The change of CEO entails no change in Orkla’s strategy,” Stein Erik Hagen, chair of Orkla’s board of directors said. “The main reason for the change … is disagreement between the board and Bjørn Wiggen as regards ways of working.

“The company intends to strengthen its position as the leading branded goods company in the Nordic region. At the same time, the company’s non-core businesses will be divested,” he added.

Orkla has been working to transform itself into a branded consumer goods company. “My primary task will be to drive the transformation of Orkla into a pure branded goods company,” Korsvold said in a statement. “We will build on the group’s strong market positions to create a stronger Orkla.”

The company this morning booked a 56% drop in net profits to NOK1.30bn (US$227m). Orkla blamed higher advertising investments, the loss of contract production and currency translation effects in the quarter for the drop.

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By GlobalData

Operating profits rose 17.4% to NOK837m in the period, but group sales declined 1.4% to NOK14.79bn.

Click here to view the full earnings release.