Norwegian food company Orkla has announced its chief executive and president Peter Ruzicka will step down in May after five years in the job.

Ruzicka will leave the Oslo-listed firm on 7 May, according to a statement today (18 March). A search for his successor will begin immediately. He has served as president and CEO since February 2014 and also sat on the board of directors from 2008 to 2014.

“After five years as president and CEO of Orkla, I have concluded that the time has come to hand over the baton,” Ruzicka said. “These have been five eventful years in which Orkla has achieved good progress in many areas.”

Terje Andersen will serve as acting president and CEO from the day Ruzicka departs until a replacement is found. He joined the Oslo-based firm in 1989 and has held the position of CEO of Orkla Investments since 2014. From 2003 to 2014, he was CFO of the company and sat on the group’s executive board from 2005 to 2018. 

Ruzicka has overseen a number of acquisitions undertaken by Orkla, most-recently the purchase of Danish company Easyfood in December and Kotipizza Group, the largest pizza chain in Finland, a month earlier. The company also bought County Confectionery in the UK in October, Denmark’s ingredients manufacturer Igos in July, and Swedish sales and distribution company Werners Gourmetservice in May. 

Ruzicka pledged in November to reduce “the complexity of Orkla’s portfolio” by focusing on fewer categories, but while the company offloaded its soy sauces brand Mrs Cheng’s last year, purchases have outweighed any business disposals. 

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Board chairman Stein Erik Hagen commented: “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Peter for his outstanding efforts and good collaboration. Peter has done an excellent job of leading Orkla in the transition from an industrial conglomerate to a more focused branded consumer goods company.”