Craig Bahner will head up the relaunched Sara Lee Frozen Bakery in the US following its sale by meat giant Tyson Foods to private-equity firm Kohlberg & Company in June. 

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery recommenced trading yesterday (30 July) under chief executive Bahner, who has previously served at Kellogg, Procter & Gamble and Wendy’s. Don Davis is president and head of sales, while Jeff Gronbeck is chief financial officer.

The company’s headquarters will be based in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, and two manufacturing facilities have been retained at Traverse City, Michigan, and Tarboro, North Carolina.

Kohlberg & Company inherited the brands of Sara Lee, Van’s, Chef Pierre and Bistro Collection, which will continue to be a key focus of the business, especially in the premium dessert foodservice market. 

Bahner said: “Tyson Foods did a great job with this portfolio of businesses, but their primary focus was on protein. Moving the frozen bakery products into a stand-alone company concentrated in the frozen bakery business will enable us to continue delivering quality products while accelerating growth, increasing innovation and achieving operational excellence.” 

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery plans to hire 60-80 senior professionals in sales and marketing, research and development, finance, human resources, and supply chain, “bolstering the resources and team needed to accelerate innovation in these competitive categories”. 

Around 1,300 workers will eventually be employed across the business.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to energize this outstanding portfolio of brands,” said chairman CJ Fraleigh, who worked for Sara Lee from 2005 to 2011, including as its North American CEO, before the then Sara Lee Corp. split in two in 2012. “We have assembled an exceptional management team, and our partners at Kohlberg have a long track record of success in carve-outs and re-emerging businesses.”