US food manufacturer Post Holdings has announced its CEO, Rob Vitale, is to take an unexpected leave of absence on unspecified medical grounds.

Vitale will also be taking a medical leave of absence from his position of executive chairman of BellRing Brands, which was the active nutrition arm of Post Holdings until the company spun off and listed the business in 2019.

St Louis-based cereal and pet-food heavyweight Post said Jeff Zadoks, currently its executive vice president (EVP) and COO, will act as interim CEO while Vitale is on leave.

On Vitale’s situation, it said: “At this time, it is too soon to know the course of treatment and timing of recovery.”

William Stiritz, chairman of Post’s board of directors, added: “Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Rob as he recovers. We are grateful to Jeff for stepping in during Rob’s absence. Post’s operating model and exceptional team of business unit and holding company executives give me great confidence in our ability to maintain the continuity of our business.”

Vitale was appointed as Post’s CEO in 2014, replacing Stiritz in the role. He had been the company’s CFO for the previous three years.

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By GlobalData

Zadoks has served in various roles at Post since 2011. Prior to serving as EVP and COO, he spent eight years as the company’s CFO.

The news of Vitale’s leave of absence came as Post announced preliminary results for Q4 of its 2023 fiscal year.

It recorded net sales of $1.9bn, the same as Q3 but up $300m year-on-year. Adjusted EBITDA of $349m compared favourably with the $279.7m achieved in the corresponding period in 2022.

Post said it expects adjusted EBITDA for the fiscal year to be between $1.2bn and $1.26bn, slightly ahead of previous guidance in the $1.18bn to $1.2bn range.

The company said its performance has been “driven by strong results for both cereal and pet food with Post Consumer Brands and continued outperformance in Foodservice”.