Arytza makes key appointment at its troubled north American unit

Baked goods group names industry veteran Dave Johnson as new chief executive

Aryzta lost as much as 38 per cent of its value in 2017

Swiss-Irish food group Arytza has made two key appointments as it looks to rebuild the ailing business.

Aryzta, owner of the Cuisine de France bakery business, has appointed Dave Johnson as the new chief executive of its north American business, while John Heffernan is to become group chief strategy officer.

Mr Johnson has an extensive background in the US food industry, including spending over 20 years at Kraft in a number of roles.

Most recently he was president and chief nine years at Barry Callebaut, one of the world’s largest chocolate and cocoa companies, where he led a firm that nearly doubled sales volume and profitability and established a strong market condition in Latin America.


Other roles include serving as chief executive at the multinational producer and distributor Michael Foods.

Mr Heffernan, who is from Dublin, joins Arytza from DAA (formerly Dublin Airport Authority), where he has served as chief development officer for the past four years.

Prior to this, he was the founder and chief executive of a number of businesses in clean energy including Clearpower and Aer Ltd.

Other previous roles include acquisitions and development director with Boundary Capital.

" I look forward to working with Dave and John who will strengthen and deepen our team's expertise as we focus on our core strengths and to returning Arytza to performance and growth," said chief executive Kevin Toland.

Aryzta lost as much as 38 per cent of its value in 2017 as the group said goodbye to former chief executive, Owen Killian and other top executives. Their departures came after the baked goods maker issued yet another massive profit warning early last year - the latest in a series of negative announcements over the past few years.

In addition to a huge decline in sales volumes for its north American business, the group has been on the backfoot since its ill-advised purchase of a stake in French frozen-food firm Picard, which cost it €446.6 million in 2015.

The group is to raise €84 million from the sale of Irish hotel and restaurant supplier La Rousse Foods for €30 million to Supervalu-owner Musgraves and from a €54 million dividend from its stake in Picard.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist