UPDATE: AUS: Lion confirms CEO Murray to leave - Just Food
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UPDATE: AUS: Lion confirms CEO Murray to leave

29 Feb 2012

Australian dairy firm Lion, which will see its chairman leave next month, has confirmed that its CEO Rob Murray also plans to quit next year.

Australian dairy firm Lion, which will see its chairman leave next month, has confirmed that its CEO Rob Murray also plans to quit next year.

A report in The Australian newspaper on Saturday (25 February) had cited an internal company memo that said Murray wanted to leave Lion next year.

Earlier today, Lion, which owns the Pura and Dairy Farmers milk brands and sells Yoplait yoghurts under licence, announced that chairman Geoff Ricketts would leave the company next month.

Speaking to just-food after its announcement on Ricketts’ departure, a spokesperson for Lion confirmed that Murray was also leaving the business.

“Rob Murray will step down as CEO but not until 2013, so still some time to go and the process to find his replacement is in its early stages,” the spokesperson said.

Murray, a former Nestle executive, has had an association with Lion and its predecessors for almost a decade. He joined brewer and winemaker Lion Nathan as a director in 2002 and became its chief executive in 2004.

Five years later, after Kirin Holdings acquired Lion Nathan, Murray led the integration of the XXXX beer owner with another of the Japanese group’s local assets, Australian dairy business National Foods.

Last year, Kirin’s Lion Nathan National Foods subsidiary was renamed Lion. The business has had a challenging year, particularly in the dairy sector. Earlier this month, Lion reported lower annual profits from its dairy business after the loss of own-label contracts and amid deep discounting in the milk sector. The unit also contributed to the “majority” of a A$1.2bn (US$1.3bn) impairment charge recorded by Lion during the year. Lion also warned that its dairy operations would continue to face “significant” margin pressures.

Ricketts will be replaced as chairman by former British Airways executive Sir Rod Eddington.