Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. has appointed Yves Couette as its new Chief Executive Officer, to succeed existing CEO Perry Odak. Mr. Couette, one of Unilever‘s leading ice cream professionals, has worked in the United States, Mexico, Indonesia and the UK. He is a native of France.

In meetings with employees, Mr. Couette vowed to build on what Ben & Jerry’s as a business has achieved. He said: “As Ben & Jerry’s goes on a tour of the world, we will never forget where we’ve come from, who our friends and family are and what we stand for.”

Perry Odak, who is leaving for personal reasons, said: “Yves has an in-depth knowledge of ice cream and true international business experience. In addition, he has the style, personality and leadership qualities required to take the Ben & Jerry’s brand further and to continue the social mission.”

Starting his career with Unilever in 1976, Yves worked in research and development, manufacturing, marketing and general management before being appointed Managing Director of Unilever’s Mexican ice cream business Helados Holanda in 1996. During his time in Mexico, Yves turned the business into a resounding commercial success with distinctive local brands and scoop shops.

Mr. Couette added: “Ben & Jerry’s is a unique company, with highly professional and committed people from whom I look forward to learning and connecting to Unilever’s world-class knowledge of ice cream. In addition, I am determined to deliver on Ben & Jerry’s social mission commitment.”

Perry Odak will remain with the business until January 2001 to assist Yves Couette in the transition process.

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Full Biographical Details

Job History
May 2000 to present: Innovation Center Desserts
Director, Ice Cream & Frozen Foods
Europe, UK
November 1996 to May 2000 Managing Director Ice Cream,
Helados Holanda, Mexico
May 1993 to November 1996 Managing Director, Soc Yaourts
Glaces, France
July 1990 to May 1993 Unilever's Global Co-ordinator of
Cheese activities, and head of
Boursin international.
June 1988 to July 1990 Marketing Development Manager,
New Products,
Van den Bergh Foods, US
September 1985 to June 1988 Director of Technical Development,
Lever Brothers, US
August 1983 to September 1985 Senior Development Manager Foods,
PT Unilever Indonesia.
October 1976 to August 1983 Held various development and
production positions, Astra Calve,

Yves Couette, Chief Executive Officer

Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.

Yves Couette is a man who has a passion for food and has spent most of his career ensuring that consumers all over the world share his enjoyment. From Paris to Mexico City, via Jakarta, New York and London, Yves has been dedicated to meeting the everyday foods needs of people around the world. Now, 48 years old and 24 years after joining Unilever, Yves has what for him is a genuinely dream job – CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.

For a man who has extensive experience in all aspects of the ice cream business, Yves jumped at the opportunity to lead such an iconoclastic business as Ben & Jerry’s when it came along.

“I’m very much a people person who loves working with individuals who think differently. The skill I bring is harnessing the diverse talents of a passionate group of people in growing the brand. I want to enhance the innate creativity that exists within Ben & Jerry’s and encourage the innovation for which they are known,” said Yves, who has had much experience in managing businesses that, although part of Unilever, set their own course.

“As Managing Director of Unilever’s ice cream business in Mexico, I fought tooth and nail to do what was right for the business and the consumers. Before I arrived the employees had worked miracles with virtually nothing but a strongly independent and entrepreneurial spirit. We remained loyal to the local brands that consumers loved and developed them further through the network of scoop shops, even though Unilever had little experience in these outlets at the time. This experience has prepared me for my role at B&J’s, where it will again be vital that the brand be managed independently and with care.”

Continuing Ben & Jerry’s social mission will also be a crucial part of Yves’ new role. “Working in countries like Mexico and Indonesia, I have seen first hand the glaring social problems people face everyday. This has strengthened my belief that business has an important role to play in achieving social progress. In Guadalajara, Mexico, for example we established an ice cream shop, run by a non-profit organization, to support disabled children. This is very much in keeping with Ben & Jerry’s three-part – product, economic and social – mission.”

Recognizing the need for social and economic missions of companies to go hand in hand, Yves said: “I firmly believe that the least socially responsible business is one that’s out of business.”

He concluded: “The challenge is to grow while enhancing further the personality and values of the brand as Ben & Jerry’s becomes an international business.”

Mr. Yves Couette is married to Odile and they have three children Stephanie, 23, Aurelie, 20 and Olivier, 17. They will live in Vermont.