Blog: Dean BestAnother new member for Faber's top team at Danone

Dean Best | 14 April 2016

Danone has appointed a new executive to lead its early life nutrition business, which features brands including Aptamil and Nutrilon.

On 1 July, Bridgette Heller, who has worked at the former Kraft Foods Inc, at Johnson & Johnson and at Merck, will become executive vice president of what is the second-largest Danone unit by annual sales and its largest by trading operating margin.

Heller will replace Felix Martin Garcia, who worked across Danone for 18 years and, in 2011, moved from his role as co-executive vice president of the French group's fresh dairy division to head the early life nutrition business.

Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber said Garcia had "successfully led our early life nutrition division". In its statement, the company pointed to the fact early life nutrition generated sales of nearly EUR5bn in 2015, "reporting the company’s strongest growth and operating margin".

However, Faber added: "Bridgette Heller is a proven leader with impressive experience who, throughout her career, has demonstrated a unique ability to engage her teams. I believe that passing the baton to her will ensure continued success for our category."

Jon Cox, an analyst covering Danone at investment bank Kepler Cheuvreux, said: "We see the appointment as decent and underscores the transformation at the top of the group under CEO Emmanuel Faber. Garcia did a good job at the division but it has been something of a roller coaster ride in the key China business."

The appointment at the top of early life nutrition at Danone is just the latest change in the higher echelons of the company since Faber become CEO in October 2014.

The group has a new executive in charge of fresh dairy and a new CFO (the previous CFO is now in charge of a newly-established business looking at Africa) while two more appointments were made to the group's executive committee in March 2015 to, one, lead its Danone 2020 business transformation programme and, two, to look at how the company sources and uses raw materials.

For Faber's take on the prospects for Danone's early life nutrition business, on its plans to target the "specific needs" of babies and on its business in China, click here to read the top takeaways from his recent presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group Europe conference.

Sectors: Baby food

Companies: Danone

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