Blog: Dean BestPremier, Fonterra set for new men at the top

Dean Best | 14 July 2011

Two major executive appointments have been announced today (14 July), with Premier Foods plc, the UK's largest food manufacturer, and Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, set to welcome new CEOs.

Premier, which has faced flak from The City over its recent performance, has named Mike Clarke, a former executive at Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola Co., as its new boss.

It's a high-calibre appointment and Clarke will join Premier in September, when he replaces Robert Schofield, who announced in April that he planned to leave the company within a year - sending its shares rising.

Schofield has had his critics, not least in the last fortnight, after Premier issued a surprise profit warning, which prompted analysts and (reportedly) some investors for him to leave the business early.

Clarke played a key role in one of the food industry's most recent controversial acquisitions when Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury last year. He can be sure the spotlight will shone brightly on him when he joins Premier in two months.

Half way around the world, Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy giant, named experienced industry veteran Theo Spierings as its new CEO.

Spierings was the acting CEO at Friesland Foods when it merged with fellow Dutch dairy group Campina in 2008. He joined Friesland in 1988 and pointed to his experience of working for a dairy co-operative.

"I am used to working for farmers and I know they demand results. Being entrepreneurs themselves, they expect continuous improved performance of both their co-operative and through-out the value chain," Spierings said.

Fonterra's shareholders council, which represents its farmer-members, welcomed the appointment of the 46-year-old.

"The appointment of the right person is a vital step for the co-operative and Mr. Spierings' vast experience at the helm of not only a dairy company but also a co-operative should ensure he comes to grips quickly with the unique model and values that have been so instrumental in driving us forward over the past decade."


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