Blog: Dean BestCampbell hires from outside for key US soup role

Dean Best | 23 May 2018

Campbell Soup Co. has brought in an executive from outside the food industry to lead its domestic soup business, a division still central to the US giant and one still seeing sales decline.

For all of Campbell's recent diversification, its legacy US soup operations remains a significant chunk of the business but is one where the company is struggling to get sales growing.

In six of Campbell's last seven financial years, the company has seen its US soup sales fall.

And, in each of the first three quarters of Campbell's current fiscal year, sales have declined, although there was some sequential improvement in the third quarter announced on Friday, with sales down 1% year-on-year, versus 7% in the second quarter.

Today, Campbell named SC Johnson veteran Roberto Leopardi as president of its meals and beverages business.

Leopardi, 53, will lead the division that includes Campbell's North American soup, sauces and shelf-stable beverages brands, as well as two recent acquisitions - US organic soup maker Pacific Foods and baby-food purveyor Plum.

He will report in to COO Luca Mignini, who Campbell moved to that role in April as part of an organisational restructure.

"Roberto brings extensive consumer-packaged goods industry experience where he has built, grown and transformed global businesses," Mignini said. "He will offer a fresh perspective to the division that is home to many of our iconic brands. Roberto will play a critical role in delivering against our strategic priorities of stabilising and then sustaining strong financial results for this important Campbell division."

Leopardi has spent more than two decades at SC Johnson, working in multiple countries for a business that has a portfolio containing brands from Mr Muscle cleaning products to Toilet Duck bleach.

News of his appointment comes just days after Campbell announced the immediate departure of its global president and CEO Denise Morrison after seven years at the helm.

Morrison's exit came alongside the publication of Campbell's third-quarter results, which included a third-quarter loss amid pressure on margins, another period of falling US soup sales and hefty impairment charges on the Campbell Fresh arm. The company's third-quarter results meant it also lowered its forecast for full-year earnings.

Campbell, which has yet to announce Morrison's successor, is embarking on a strategic review of its business.

CFO Anthony DiSilvestro said "We are not satisfied with our financial results. Our performance has been impacted by both execution-related and external challenges. We are addressing these challenges with renewed urgency. Looking ahead, we will be reviewing all aspects of our strategic plans and portfolio composition. We anticipate that our review, which will take several months to complete, will lead to changes designed to improve our operating performance and create long-term shareholder value."

Sectors: Canned food

Companies: Campbell Soup Co.


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