Kraft Foods shakes up leadership, reports quarterly loss

Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:25pm EST
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By Anjali Athavaley and Ramkumar Iyer

(Reuters) - Kraft Foods Group Inc said on Thursday that its chief financial officer would leave her role and two other senior executives would depart from the company, marking the first major changes at the maker of Velveeta cheese and Oscar Mayer meats since its board chairman took over as chief executive in December.

Kraft said the shakeup, which includes the creation of a "vice president of growth initiatives", was aimed at accelerating the pace of change at the company. In December, the company announced that its chairman John Cahill would replace Chief Executive Tony Vernon who stepped down.

In his first earnings conference call since he took over as CEO, Cahill said, "It's clear that our world has changed and our consumers have changed, but our company has not changed enough."

Cahill declined to give specifics on his strategy until the second quarter of the year but said the company would focus on developing products based on consumer insights and spend on more efficient advertising. The company has been battling sluggish demand for its older brands in the United States, where many consumers want fresher foods with higher quality ingredients.

As part of the change, Chief Financial Officer Teri List-Stoll will be leaving her role effective Feb. 28. Chief Marketing Officer Deanie Elsner and Chuck Davis, executive vice president of research and development and quality and innovation, will leave the company. Jane Hilk, president of the enhancers and snack nuts division, has been appointed interim chief marketing officer.

Kraft said the finance division would report to Cahill until a CFO was appointed.

List-Stoll, who joined Kraft in September 2013, will stay on as a senior adviser to ensure a smooth transition.

"Three people after this guy has been on the job 50 plus days seems like an awful quick, swift move," said Brian Yarbrough, analyst at Edward Jones. "But I think his whole point is they're not innovating fast enough, and they're not coming out with the right type of marketing."   Continued...

Price tags and a stack of Kraft Foods Inc. "Velveeta Slices" and "Singles" can be seen in a supermarket in New York April 29, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson