Former Aryzta chief Kevin Toland files lawsuit against bakery group

Owner of Cuisine de France Ireland hired former DAA chief in 2017 to help stabilise the business

Aryzta’s former chief executive Kevin Toland has launched a legal case against the Swiss-Irish baked goods group almost 3½ years after leaving the company with a 1.77 million Swiss franc (€1.81 million) pay-off.

Spokesmen for the company and for Mr Toland’s lawyer, Donal Spring of Daniel Spring & Co Solicitors, each declined to comment on the nature of the case, which is at a preliminary stage. The defendant is listed as Aryzta Technology Ireland Unlimited.

Aryzta, owner of the Cuisine de France brand in Ireland, hired Mr Toland, a former chief executive of airport operator DAA and one-time senior executive with nutrition group Glanbia in the US, in 2017 to help stabilise the business, after a number of senior departures in the wake of a series of disappointing earnings reports.

He had been hired by then chairman Gary McGann, an Irish corporate world grandee, who had been brought in the previous year.


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The duo would raise hundreds of millions of euro from disposals, including most of Aryzta’s stake in Picard, its former La Rousse Foods unit in Ireland, two facilities in the US, and a 50 per cent stake in a UK flatbreads business. They also launched an €800 million equity raise in late 2018.

In April 2020, a month after Covid-19 sent the western world into lockdown, hitting bread orders from quick-service restaurants and the catering industry, Aryzta attracted the unwelcome attention of a fresh activist investor, Zurich-based Veraison Capital.

Mr McGann signalled that August that he was stepping down ahead of an extraordinary general meeting (egm) the following month, at which Veraison orchestrated a wider boardroom coup.

Mr Toland left the company with immediate effect on November 19th, 2020, a month after a suitor for the group, hedge fund Elliott Management, which had been courted by the previous board, walked away.

Elliot had pitched a bid at 0.8 Swiss francs per share. The stock has since rebounded to 1.7 francs, helped by noncore asset sales, a recovery in earnings and reduction of its debt burden.

Swiss food industry executive Urs Jordi succeeded Mr McGann in September 2020 and took on the additional role of interim chief executive when Mr Toland left.

Mr Toland’s remuneration during Aryzta’s financial year through July 2021 amounted to 2.69 million francs, including a 1.77 million franc ex gratia payment. Total ex gratia payments to former executives totalled 4.06 million francs that year.

Mr Toland was appointed chairman of Gas Networks Ireland in late 2022. His other current corporate positions include non-executive directorships at New York-listed Dole plc, Bewley’s Limited and Invert Robotics, which has developed climbing robots often used in hazardous or hard-to-reach environments.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times